Suffredin- An Advocate for All of Us  

Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine


  Office phone numbers:  

The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.


Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.

  Cook County Hospital fills more outpatient prescriptions every day than are filled at 26 Walgreen's drug store combined.

Pol takes aim at hospitals
Suffredin seeking $200 million a year to fund county system

Sunday, October 08, 2006
Crain's Chicago Business

A Cook County commissioner wants to squeeze as much as $200 million a year from local hospitals to help fund the county's cash-starved health system.

Commissioner Larry Suffredin says he'll introduce a measure in coming weeks that will pose a choice to the county's more than 50 non-profit hospitals: Offer more free medical services to ease the burden on the struggling county hospital system, contribute cash to that system or pay property taxes.

Mr. Suffredin is moving quickly following a recent state ruling upholding Champaign County's right to tax Provena Covenant Medical Center of Urbana because it failed to meet charitable-care standards for tax-exempt hospitals. Mr. Suffredin's plan would face vigorous opposition from the industry, and it's too early to say whether other commissioners will back him.
Mr. Suffredin is pitting a government badly in need of revenue — John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital and other Cook medical facilities face a $94-million projected loss this fiscal year — against an industry already facing criticism in Illinois and Washington, D.C., over its charitable activities.

"The Provena ruling is going to put a lot more pressure on hospitals to show they have a charitable side to their operations," Mr. Suffredin says. "I'm setting up a framework to encourage them to come to us first. Those who aren't cooperative are the ones we'll ask the assessor to aggressively focus on."

Cook's health system makes up 28% of the county's $3.1 billion budget.
Tax exemptions for hospitals and other entities are determined by the state on recommendations from local governments. A ruling last month by Illinois Department of Revenue Director Brian Hamer could embolden local governments to put hospitals on their tax rolls. Mr. Hamer upheld Illinois' 2004 denial of Provena Covenant's tax-exempt status, concluding it didn't provide enough free care to warrant an exemption. Parent company Provena Health of Mokena plans to appeal the ruling in court.

"This ruling suddenly gives cash-strapped local governments an opening to say, 'Hey, maybe we should look at this charity-care issue more closely,' " says Stephen Weyl, a New Hampshire attorney who advises hospitals on tax-exemption issues.

Mr. Suffredin's measure would seek binding agreements from Cook County's non-profit hospitals to devote a set percentage of their operating budgets either directly to the county's health system or toward free medical care for uninsured residents. Hospitals that balk would be subjected to a detailed analysis of their charity care and property tax breaks.
Mr. Suffredin says hospitals would give free care or cash in the equivalent of 8% of their operating budgets, citing a figure proposed by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan in a bill that stalled earlier this year amid hospital opposition. The state hospital lobby recently began fresh talks with Ms. Madigan, who intends to push for new legislation next year if the sides can't agree.

Cook County's tax-exempt hospitals provided $152 million in charity care in 2004, even though nearly half of them lose money on operations, according to the Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council.

"If you place this new burden on them, where are they going to come up with the money?" says Kevin Scanlan, the council's CEO. "They'll have to curtail programs and services, and that would push more people back on the county system." Cook County's health system should cut costs before looking to hospitals for revenue, he says.

Cook County Assessor James Houlihan is appraising all non-profit hospitals at the request of the board. A spokesman says values won't be available until early next year.
Some commissioners support forcing hospitals to provide more charity care, but differ on how to achieve that goal.

Cook County Board President Bobbie Steele wants to wait until Mr. Houlihan's work is complete before making any decisions, but says tax-exempt hospitals should provide charity care at least equal to their property tax exemption, a spokeswoman says.
Commissioner Forrest Claypool says he's open to a county measure to address the issue, but is skeptical of a "one-size-fits-all" solution that could hurt hospitals that serve large numbers of poor patients. He says the matter is best left to Ms. Madigan to settle.
"There's no doubt that some hospitals probably don't deserve their tax break, but I don't think we should throw the baby out with the bath water," Mr. Claypool says.

Recent Headlines

Northbrook will revisit Cook County minimum wage ordinance in May
Sunday, November 18, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Suffredin: County to seek 'safeguards' for golf course road
Friday, November 16, 2018
Evanston NOW

She's been waiting 15 months for her rape kit to be processed. A new proposal to track evidence aims to change that.
Wednesday, November 14, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Preckwinkle to unveil policy roadmap for Cook County for next five years
Wednesday, November 14, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

U.S. appeals judges: Go fight over lawsuits with Dorothy Brown in state court
Tuesday, November 13, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

COMMENTARY: Here's how the Shakman case curbed Cook County patronage
Tuesday, November 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Appeals court backs Dorothy Brown in lawsuit over public access to electronic records, says judge overstepped authority
Tuesday, November 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

What’s Next As Voters Overwhelmingly Support Higher Minimum Wage, Paid Sick Time
Monday, November 12, 2018
Journal and Topics Online

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle's security chief fired after review spurred by watchdog report
Thursday, November 08, 2018
Chicago Tribune

An earlier opening day: 2019 Cook County forest preserves permits go on sale Nov. 15
Thursday, November 08, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Cook County opening 2019 picnic permit sales Nov. 15
Monday, November 05, 2018
Special to

The Cook County Land Bank looks to go commercial
Monday, November 05, 2018
RE Journal

Nov. 15 is new opening date for Cook County forest preserves permits
Monday, November 05, 2018
Daily Herald

Cook County Gun Dealer, Minimum Wage Referendums On Ballot
Monday, November 05, 2018

The Abandoned WWI Monument One Chicago Man Is Determined To Save
Friday, November 02, 2018
Chicago Patch

Cook County freed from federal oversight
Thursday, November 01, 2018
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

First-of-its-kind trauma recovery center serves survivors of domestic violence, hate crimes, sexual assault, gun violence in Cook County
Monday, October 29, 2018

Northbrook opts in to Cook County paid sick leave ordinance, more uncertainty for employers, lawyer says
Monday, October 29, 2018
Cook County Record

First-of-its-kind Advocate Trauma Recovery Center serves survivors of domestic violence, hate crimes, sexual assault, gun violence in Cook County
Monday, October 29, 2018
WLS Channel 7

Cook County sheriff, CVS team up on safe prescription painkiller disposal
Saturday, October 27, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.