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Cook County to cut off drugs for non-residents
Seeks reimbursement from counties

Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Chicago Sun-Times
by STEVE PATTERSON

 Cook County taxpayers spend millions of dollars each year providing prescription drugs to thousands of people living outside the county, sometimes even paying extra to deliver the drugs to their out-of-county doorstep.

But under a plan approved Tuesday by the County Board, that support could end Dec. 1 unless a patient's home county enters into an agreement with Cook County to reimburse it for the costs.

And people outside the county who get drugs from the county by mail-order programs should receive a notice with their November shipment that it will be the last time they'll get a delivery from Cook County.

The issue has been festering since early this year, when hospital chief Dr. Robert Simon stopped providing health services to residents from outside the county because they cost the cash-strapped health system millions.

Board President Todd Stroger lifted that ban, promising to revisit it, but to date little progress has been made.

The board has since recommended cutting health services by Dec. 1 to non-residents without an inter-county deal.

Board members have tried multiple times to politely drop hints during meetings that it's Stroger's job as executive to cut off services. Now that he has a signed letter of support from the board, Stroger said he'll use that to push for cooperation from neighboring counties.



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