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Cook County hosptial revenue sinks.

Saturday, June 30, 2007
Daily Southtown
by Jonathan Lipman

Cook County officials are hopeful for a financial rebound despite a continued slide in revenue for the
beleagured health system.

New numbers for the first half of the county's fiscal year show it collecting even less patient fee
revenue than last year. Dismal patient fees were a main factor in this year's budget crunch.

Through the end of May, the county collected $137.1 million in patient fees, which is $16.5 million
behind budget projections, Comptroller Joseph Fratto said. Overall, the county projects it will be
about $35 million behind in patient fees for the year.

The county had collected $139.8 million in patient fees at this time in 2006, Fratto said.

John Cookingham, health bureau chief financial officer, said he hoped the county could still make up
the budget gap. The bureau has identified new areas to bill insurers and government programs and is
plowing through stacks of old bills.

"In the hospital industry -- if you bill everything you could find today, you wouldn't see any cash out
of that for 60 to 90 days," Cookingham said. "There are still some real opportunities out there."



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