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County may close health facilities to non-residents

Thursday, March 22, 2007
Chicago Sun-Times
by STEVE PATTERSON Staff Reporter

Non-Cook County residents won't be able to use county health clinics or hospital services after Dec. 1, unless their home county agrees to help cover costs for their care.
That's according to a plan advanced by a Cook County Board committee Wednesday and expected to get final approval next month.
As many as 37,200 non-county residents use county clinics, at Cook County taxpayers' expense, with even more using county pharmacies and hospitals, officials said.
Under the new plan, the county would still treat those with emergencies, but would stabilize them and return them to their home county for further care.
'You've got to help pay'
Commissioner Larry Suffredin said some non-county patients in need of specialty care show up not only with a diagnosis from their doctor, but also with train maps and directions to county health facilities.
Cook County provides access to health care like no other surrounding county does for the underprivileged.
"We're saying, 'We'll care for them, but you've got to help pay for them,'" county Commissioner Peter Silvestri said.
Health officials from DuPage, Lake, McHenry, Will and Kane counties have been in talks with Cook County about this plan, and deals are expected to be struck by Sept.1.


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