Suffredin- Changing County Government  
 

Accountability
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 is the second most populous county in the nation. It is the 19th largest government in the U.S.
   
     
     
     



Amidst record tax hike, county cuts program for poor moms, babies

Monday, July 14, 2008
Daily Herald
by Rob Olmstead

Despite raising taxes $426 million annually earlier this year, Cook County leaders have decided to stop funding at least $1.8 million a year for a program designed to keep poor pregnant women and their babies healthy.

The move also will likely mean the layoff of 80 county employees.

County public health officials say the state program will continue on without its participation, and poor mothers and babies will receive preventive care.

But it is undisputed that as a result of the county's decision, at least $1.8 million in funding will be lost.

"I think it's concerning any time a program designed to prevent infant mortality - is eliminated," Cook County Commissioner Forrest Claypool said. Claypool said he wasn't passing judgment on the move just yet, but he indicated he would be inquiring further into the matter.

Critics of the administration also questioned the timing of the cuts, which removed the decision from the county board and put it before a brand new hospital board, meeting Friday for just the second time, even though problems with funding for the program were known as far back as March.

"I wish they (county administrators) would have told us," said county Commissioner Mike Quigley, who wondered if the cuts were deliberately delayed to ease their passage by putting them before a new board. "You can get snookered (by the administration) really easily - if you don't have the institutional memory here."

But county health administrators insist the state can provide the same amount of services more efficiently by privatizing the effort and avoiding ever-spiraling county personnel costs.

And they denied there was any delay in order to ramrod the changes through a new and unsuspecting board.

"There was no push to push this off on anyone," said Dr. Stephen Martin, the head of the county's public health department and a member of President Todd H. Stroger's administration.

The program cuts came to light Friday at the board meeting of the newly constituted Cook County Health and Hospitals System board of directors. That board was created as part of the county budget deal in February with the goal of putting county hospitals and clinics back in the black financially by turning them over to an independent board. Previously, the hospitals and clinics had been run by the county board.

While Friday's agenda contained items with as many as five paragraphs to describe innocuous contract purchases, the elimination of the poor mothers' program was referenced in just a single sentence and described as a "motion to receive report." The "report," in fact, was a move to dismantle the program.

Under the program, nurses and other county workers check up on pregnant and new mothers enrolled in Medicare and their children as old as 5. Case managers - both at mothers' homes and in health-care clinics - check in regularly with them to ensure pregnant women are eating right and getting checkups and that babies are receiving vaccinations.

The county is then reimbursed by the state for providing the services, at a contract rate of up to $6 million annually. Any money the county spent in excess of that was then partially matched at a rate of 50 cents on the dollar by the federal government. Martin said the county had been spending $1.8 million more than $6 million, and the federal government was then kicking in $900,000, for a total program cost of $8.7 million.

In March, state administrators told the county the federal match had dried up, Martin told the new board in a memo dated July 7. Martin and county officials then negotiated unsuccessfully with the state to try to get it to kick in more money.

The state made its decision not to contribute any more funds in April, Martin said.

So why didn't county officials then come to the county board, which ran the hospital system at the time?

Martin said they waited in part because the state's fiscal year didn't start until July 1.

Additionally, there was no good alternative to cuts.

"I would simply be asking them (the county board) to take something from somewhere else," he said. "That would not have gone over well either way."

To continue to fund the program, Martin said, "The county would have to steal from other county health programs to pay for a state program."

That reticence to approach the old governing body was atypical, however. Last month, the county board approved a new clinic in the Skokie courthouse. And just a month or two earlier, the board approved a long-term contract with a bill-collection agency it acknowledged the new board might not want.

Tom Green, a spokesman with the Illinois Department of Human Services, confirmed that the county had notified the agency it would not continue to administer the program.

As of yet, however, the state has not found any organization to take over administration of the program, he said.

Martin told the board there will be a transition period of four to five months while the county still provides the service because by union contracts it must provide advance notice to employees it plans to lay off. About 20 nurses are expected to be retained in other positions that were deliberately left unfilled in anticipation of the program shutdown, Martin said. But about 40 health advocates and 40 clerks will likely be laid off, he said.

Asked about the impact on mothers and children by board member David Ansell, Martin did not directly answer at first, but conceded when pressed that it could result in lower birth weights in the target group. And he acknowledged that even if the services are picked up by another agency, they will be based on a social service model, rather than the nurses the county currently uses.

The board approved the shutdown on a voice vote, with just one board member abstaining.



Recent Headlines

IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM COMMISSIONER SUFFREDIN
Thursday, May 16, 2019
Special to suffredin.org

Cook County Assessorís Office Publicly Releases Residential Assessment Code and Models
Thursday, April 18, 2019
Special to suffredin.org

EDITORIAL: Long in the MWRD pipeline, IG plan needs a yes vote
Wednesday, April 17, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County Health Cuts Ribbon on Outpatient Center in Arlington Heights
Tuesday, April 16, 2019
Daily Herald

Celebrate Earth Day with the Forest Preserves of Cook County
Tuesday, April 16, 2019
Special to suffredin.org

Homeowners in Chicago have just a few weeks to get current on their 2017 property taxes - or risk losing their homes. WBEZís Odette Yousef reports.
Tuesday, April 16, 2019
WBEZ Chiacgo Public Radio

Editorial: The Foxx-Smollett questions for Inspector General Blanchard
Tuesday, April 16, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Cook County pet owners warned of spring coyote dangers
Monday, April 15, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County inspector general to review prosecutors' handling of Jussie Smollett case
Saturday, April 13, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Foxx requests Cook County IG investigation into handling of Jussie Smollett case
Friday, April 12, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

A challenge to one of Chicago's biggest draws for companies
Friday, April 12, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

What Evanston's assessments tell us about the new assessor's new math
Friday, April 12, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

$3.85 million granted in lawsuit against ex-Cook County forest preserve worker charged in fatal on-the-job crash
Thursday, April 11, 2019
Chicago Tribune

A Day in the Life of a Cook County Burn Crew
Wednesday, April 10, 2019
WTTW News

EDITORIAL: Splitting up the regionís sanitation board is an idea that stinks
Monday, April 08, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Lawmakers Look To Keep 10-Year-Olds Out Of Jail
Thursday, April 04, 2019

Property Tax Workshops Help Homeowners Appeal Assessments
Wednesday, April 03, 2019
Evanston RoundTable

Large crowds of Evanston residents turn out to appeal property tax assessments
Tuesday, April 02, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Family of slain cabbie accuses Cook County state's attorney's office of dodging FOIA request
Monday, April 01, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Property Tax Appeal Seminar Set For New Trier Township Residents
Monday, April 01, 2019
Journal and Topics Online

all news items

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