The Cook County hospital system could boost its 2010 revenue by as
much as $60 million, but still faces county budget cuts of up to $52
The cuts in funding result from a mandate from County Board
President Todd Stroger that all county-funded agencies present three
fiscal year 2010 budget scenarios, two of which take into account
possible sales tax rollbacks.
Stroger asked that one budget incorporate a 12 percent reduction
from 2009 levels, to account for a possible rollback of the one cent
sales tax, which some county commissioners oppose. Another calls for a
19 percent reduction to account for a possible one-half cent reduction
in the sales tax and the county’s fulfillment of missed pension
payments from 2007.
In the latter scenario, Cook County Health and Hospital System
spokesman Lucio Guerrero says, the health system opted to cut 19
percent of the funds it receives from the county.
The health system board, he said, “feels that we should be given credit for some of the money we’ve been able to secure.”
Opponents to the one-percent sales tax voted for the third time to
rescind it last month. Stroger responded by vetoing the rollback. It
will take 14 of the 17 commissioners to overrule Stroger; the board
next meets Sept. 1.
If the opponents fail to overturn the veto, the health system's budget scenario would be moot.
However, by reducing its funding requests from the county, the
health system would not have to relinquish any of its profits to fund
other county operations should the rollback be sustained.
“You keep what you earn,” said health system finance committee chairman David Carvalho at yesterday’s board meeting.
“Obviously, we are always going to have needs from the County but
the Board felt that money secured from other areas (feds, grants, etc)
for healthcare that doesn’t come from County taxpayers shouldn’t be
included in the reduction,” Guerrero said in an email.
Other board members, however, said that was not a fair assessment,
since the county has in the past contributed money when the health
system needed it.