Suffredin- An Advocate for All of Us  
 

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:  
   
 
 

Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.

   
 

The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.

   
  Cook County has the largest unified trial court system in the world, disposing over 6 million cases in 1990 alone.
   
     
     
     



Cook County Rx
Hold the line on health care costs

Friday, September 23, 2011
Chicago Tribune
by Editorial

The people who run Cook County's health system are the latest to learn that Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle really does intend to hold a hard line on spending. The health system's independent board wants $327.6 million from the county next year. That's $54 million more than it was budgeted to get this year.

Preckwinkle's response: No way. She's offering $243 million.


Preckwinkle shouldn't back down.

Progress on an efficient health system has been made in the three years since Cook County pols reluctantly turned control of the system to the independent board. In 2009, the county shelled out a staggering $417 million to keep the system afloat. The next year it was $274 million, thanks in part to the panel's aggressive move to secure more Medicaid reimbursement. This year, though, the county's costs have spiked, in part because the health board overestimated how much money it would take in from other sources. It is projected to spend $363.8 million from the county this year.

That's the wrong direction.

The total budget for the system in 2012 is projected at $937.6 million, a 2.8 percent rise.

"We can't cut any more without really doing harm to the people we're trying to serve," says Warren Batts, the chairman of the health board.

That's not what we expect to hear from this group of professionals, who are well-versed in budgets and delivering quality health care. Their mission is to provide quality care and set the health system on a sound financial footing, which means it must operate within its means.

We like Preckwinkle's response to the health panel: "In the current financial climate, it is not feasible for the (health system) to receive an additional subsidy from county taxpayers, and we feel that it's important for government bodies to take responsibility for their budget shortfalls."

Credit Preckwinkle for a healthy sense of urgency and resolve to streamline and modernize all facets of county government. That resolve isn't shared by everyone on the Cook County Board, as you can see from the other editorial on this page.

The county faces a $315 million budget shortfall in 2012. We can't count on every county commissioner to recognize that. We do count on the health board to fully deliver on its promises to hike revenue, cut expenses and wring inefficiencies from the system. Glaring proof that it has not: It has been four years since we learned Cook County hospitals didn't even try to bill some patients. Today, the computers still aren't up to speed; the county and its health system can't communicate effectively. Some bills still aren't going out.

So Preckwinkle should stand her ground and remind the health experts they really blew their budget this year. And she should do everything she can to help them make this system cost-effective.

The health system does face a formidable challenge: It's getting more patients who can't pay for care and fewer patients who can.

• 57 percent of the county's patients fall into a category that officials call "self pay." That's a euphemism for "no-pay." The county gives them free care. This share of the patient load has been rising in the last few years, county officials tell us.

That's right. Nearly 6 in 10 people who walk in the door for care can't pay and there is no insurance company or government program that will reimburse Cook County taxpayers for their care. Many of these patients are undocumented immigrants. Some of them live in neighboring counties and travel to Cook for treatment. Bottom line: The county is forced to eat those costs. It has to do a better job of determining who is actually a resident of Cook County and who has the means to pay for care.

• Many of the families who qualify for Medicaid are taking their business to other hospitals. County officials don't know why this is happening. They need to find out. The answer is vital if the health system is to regain Medicaid dollars and boost its cash flow.

We had high hopes when county pols finally turned the system over to the pros. The panel's prime mission: Bring expenses and revenues in line and deliver quality, efficient care. Mr. Batts & Co. have more to deliver.


Recent Headlines

Study says property tax system favors rich
Friday, February 16, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Property Tax System ‘More Regressive’ in Cook County, Report Finds
Friday, February 16, 2018
WTTW Chicago Tonight

VIDEO: Cook County Jail detainees applaud CPD commander’s alleged killer
Friday, February 16, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Blockbuster report: How Cook County tax system shafts the little guy
Thursday, February 15, 2018
Crain's Chicago Business

Order over lawsuits in Dorothy Brown’s office put on hold by appeals court
Wednesday, February 14, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Dorothy Brown can't 'end-run' First Amendment, judge says in denying delay
Tuesday, February 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Cook County prosecutors toss more convictions tainted by corrupt ex-Chicago police Sgt. Ronald Watts
Tuesday, February 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Handwritten documents, Manila folders, carbon paper — welcome to Cook County criminal court
Monday, February 12, 2018
Chicago Tribune

2 Cook County Commissioners missed over a third of Forest Preserve meetings
Sunday, February 11, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County Jail guards lock down sweet union contract—despite sour budget mess
Sunday, February 11, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Running for judge, Dorothy Brown’s inspector general accepts donation from bos
Friday, February 09, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook Co. President Urges Trump To Stop ICE Arrests In Courthouses
Wednesday, February 07, 2018
Beverly Patch

Voting in Jail? New Bill Seeks to Expand Ballot Access for Detainees
Wednesday, February 07, 2018
WTTW Chicago Tonight

COOK COUNTY BOARD COMMISSIONER PROPOSES HEARING ON POLICE OVERSIGHT
Wednesday, February 07, 2018
WBEZ BGA

Assessor Berrios Extends Deadline for Senior and Senior Freeze Exemption Applications
Wednesday, February 07, 2018
Special to suffredin.org

EDITORIAL: You can’t vote if you don’t have a ballot
Wednesday, February 07, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Early voting postponed as candidate nomination contested
Wednesday, February 07, 2018
Jacksonville Journal Courier

Jail Population Plunge Has Been Good For Taxpayers, Dart Says
Tuesday, February 06, 2018
WBBM CBSChicago

Foxx: Berrios shouldn't use special state's attorney to fight ethics law
Tuesday, February 06, 2018
Chicago Tribune

EDITORIAL: Every suspicious Cook County death deserves a proper investigation
Tuesday, February 06, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

all news items

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