Suffredin- For a Better Cook County  
 

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.

   
  Eighteen of the 20 largest banks in the world and more than 50 foreign banks have offices in Cook County.
   
     
     
     



New Cook County health board faces showdown with Todd Stroger
Board president -- who gave up direct control of county hospital, hiring and budget -- lectured health chief at recent meeting and lets him know Stroger still influences his budget

Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Chicago Tribune
by Hal Dardick

Cook County Board President Todd Stroger locked eyes on the county hospital's new boss and delivered a lecture.

William Foley, who runs the county's massive public health system, had failed to tell Stroger about a plan to speed up pediatric emergency care at the flagship Stroger Hospital before it was reported on TV.

"I think that we may have to remind you that we exist, Mr. Foley," Stroger said, silencing chattering observers at a recent County Board meeting. "Sometimes I think that you think we're invisible, that we're not part of the whole picture."

Stroger agreed last year to give up direct control of the county hospital, including its 7,000 jobs and nearly $1 billion annual budget, in a political deal to get the final vote he needed to pass a controversial sales tax increase. Since then he and his allies have chafed at the newfound independence of the health board, while his critics have praised the board for taking smart initial steps toward rescuing an ailing system.

The new hospital leaders have been lauded for efforts to eliminate waste, lower costs and improve services. They also pleased reformers by giving up the longs-standing option of filling hundreds of jobs with political appointees.

Stroger and other county politicians have sought to re-exert authority in recent months. Some county commissioners tried unsuccessfully to stop a supply contract that hospital officials said would save up to $20 million a year, and Stroger personally advocated for an HIV/AIDS clinical trial that doctors rejected as too risky.

The skirmishes so far were a precursor to the big battle looming over the first health system budget drawn up entirely by the new regime. Stroger and county commissioners can change the health system budget as part of his administration's spending plan that has to be approved by the end of February.

"My concern is that the budget we have put together will be tinkered with by the people who don't have the same concerns or objectivity," said County Board Commissioner Jerry Butler, D-Chicago, the lone elected official on the 11-member board of directors that oversees day-to-day decisions, crafts long-term plans and proposes the budget.

The proposed budget would cut the system's workforce and lower its reliance on local taxes, the new health officials said. They also plan to restructure how treatment is provided at the system's three hospitals, 16 clinics, HIV/AIDS treatment facility and the medical unit at Cook County Jail.

The latest moves are bringing once reticent critics out of the woodwork.

They say the board needs to be more transparent in its operations and question whether the appointed members can be held accountable. The critics also question the board members' allegiance, noting many work for non-public health care companies including Rush University Medical Center, University of Chicago Medical Center and Mercy Hospital and Medical Center.

Critics also say they are concerned the restructuring is more focused on cost savings than maintaining services for uninsured people, which could influence the upcoming budget debate. Stroger makes no bones about his influence over that process.

"With the money should come some partnership with the (County) Board," Stroger said in an interview. "In the end, as I've told them, the face of the hospitals is the president's, and that's me, and until I leave, that's going to be me. So, if they want their operation to run, they need me to go out there and be in front and make sure that they have money."

Yet the health budget proposed by the new board could weaken Stroger's oft-repeated claim that rolling back the sales-tax increase would force deep cuts in public health services.

An independent analysis by the Civic Federation, a business-backed government budget watchdog group, concluded $46 million of $380 million in revenue from the new tax is going to the public health system.

The proposed budget would significantly boost spending while cutting the system's reliance on county taxes by $73 million -- without service cuts, said Warren Batts, chairman of the independent board. The savings are primarily due to the board securing hundreds of millions of additional federal dollars to treat the indigent, he said. The systems also is billing and collecting more patient fees and plans to finish making net job cuts of about 950 positions during 2010 to save more than $60 million a year.

"We're trying to spend no more than we need to," Batts said. "We're trying to do what's best from a medical point of view."

The Health and Hospitals System board is doing well so far, said Civic Federation President Laurence Msall, adding that "it's too early to pass judgment." Msall noted that authority over the system will automatically return to the County Board in mid-2011, barring action by commissioners or state lawmakers. The sunset provision should be removed, he said.

Few public health systems are still run by elected officials, said Larry Gage, president of the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems.

"You need to make too many decisions too quickly," he said, explaining the trend. "It's as much the bureaucracy as the politics."

The merits of an independent health system are expected to be debated during the upcoming primary, in which Stroger faces multiple challengers for the Democratic nomination.

Thirty years ago, the system was at a similar crossroads with an independent board that had been in place for a decade.

But amid political sniping, control was handed back to the Cook County Board, where it remained until last year.

hdardick@tribune.com


Recent Headlines

Old Cook County Hospital on track to become next city landmark
Wednesday, January 16, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Free Radioactive Radon Test Kits From Cook County
Tuesday, January 15, 2019
Special to suffredin.org

Toni Preckwinkle and county watchdog at odds over political travel reimbursements
Friday, January 11, 2019
Chicago Tribune

2 Cook County judges — one cleared of gun charge, one reassigned for anger management — to return to bench at criminal court
Thursday, January 10, 2019
Chicago Tribune

It's been a bad decade for property taxes
Wednesday, January 09, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

Bond court reform has not put more violent offenders back on the street
Wednesday, January 09, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Glenview pushes minimum wage, paid sick leave discussion to next week
Tuesday, January 08, 2019
Chicago Tribune

How Fritz Kaegi Plans to Transform the Cook County Assessor’s Office
Friday, January 04, 2019
WTTW Chicago Tonight

Cook County Health recognizes Cervical Health Awareness Month
Friday, January 04, 2019
Special to suffredin.org

2 neighborhood courthouses close: 'You’re discouraging citizens from going to court'
Friday, January 04, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Campaign money tied to Ald. Edward Burke’s alleged extortion scheme was intended for County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, sources say
Thursday, January 03, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Cook County, parking operators in dispute over possibly millions in back taxes that could leave consumers pinched
Thursday, January 03, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Preckwinkle pursues back taxes from parking lot operators
Wednesday, January 02, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

30K Cook County homeowners to get $8.3M in automatic property tax refunds
Monday, December 31, 2018
Special to suffredin.org

2019 preview: Glenview to consider minimum wage
Monday, December 31, 2018
Chicago Tribune

'If I can do this, you can do this': Cook County judges inspire students of similar backgrounds
Thursday, December 27, 2018
Chicago Tribune

The Price Tag Of Freedom For Hundreds Of Non-Violent Cook County Inmates Is Less Than $2,000
Thursday, December 27, 2018
CBS Chicago

Give the Gift of Nature
Thursday, December 27, 2018
Special to suffredin.org

Why those 19 inmates were in Cook County Jail
Wednesday, December 26, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Medical examiner slow to review cases of fired pathologist who missed a murder
Wednesday, December 26, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

all news items

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