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Cook County aims to remove hospitals from board control.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Daily Herald
by Rob Olmstead

Cook County Board commissioners today will take the first step toward putting the county's public hospitals and clinics under an independent board.

Commissioner Gregg Goslin of Glenview will chair the first meeting of the Cook County Task Force on Hospital Governance. The panel is taking testimony today and will later come up with a recommendation for the county board on how to turn over the county hospital to an independent board.

"We've already agreed on certain things," said Goslin, one of five Republicans on the 17-member board.

Eventually, the hospital board would have its own taxing authority and the county would reduce its tax burden accordingly, he said. But that would require action by Springfield and the task force has more immediate plans in mind, Goslin said.

Separate governance of the hospitals was recommended by several study groups recently after hospital finances melted down in recent years, in part due to administrators there not collecting Medicaid reimbursements.

The study groups said a separate governance board made up of health-care professionals free of county politics would be better suited to improve the finances and collect bills.

Members of a new hospital board would be appointed by Cook County Board President Todd Stroger and confirmed by the county board.

Goslin said he has made it clear the appointees will have to be top-notch, nonpolitical professionals with the experience to do the job.

"If it's a friends and family plan … I'll vote against them," said Goslin.

Today, the task force will hear from Commissioner Larry Suffredin, an Evanston Democrat who has a plan to turn over the hospital to a temporary trusteeship.

Goslin said the plan, at least initially, is consistent with the task force's plan to quickly get the hospitals and clinics out from under the county board.

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