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  Cook County Hospital fills more outpatient prescriptions every day than are filled at 26 Walgreen's drug store combined.

Cook health system gets a new leader
State official David Carvalho chosen

Friday, August 10, 2012
Chicago Tribune
by Hal Dardick

An official with decades of experience in health care law, policy and planning was chosen Thursday to head up the board that oversees Cook County's vast public health system.

David Carvalho, a deputy director for the Illinois Department of Public Health, was picked by his fellow board members as chairman of the Health and Hospitals System that runs the county's hospitals and clinics.

In 1991, Carvalho helped set up the county's first unified public health care system. He later served for eight years as its legal adviser before moving on to state government in 2003, where he oversees health planning, policy and statistics.

In that role, he also is a nonvoting member of the Health Facilities and Services Review Board, an agency that decides whether to approve new hospitals. Carvalho was on the panel, which operated under a different name at the time, during a scandal involving board member Stuart Levine, who pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges and testified against Antoin "Tony" Rezko, a convicted fundraiser for ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

At the nonpaid county post, Carvalho replaces Warren Batts, a formerTupperware Corp.CEO and onetime chairman ofChildren's Memorial Hospital. Batts had led the county system's board since it was created in 2008 to remove politics from the financially troubled system.

County Board President Toni Preckwinkle chose not to reappoint Batts, who was among five who left the 11-member board this year.

On Thursday, Carvalho said he hopes to "continue the progress we made under the outstanding leadership of former Chairman Warren Batts." He also praised Dr. Ramanathan Raju, chosen last year as the system's CEO.

The immediate problem facing the board is a projected $152 million funding shortfall projected for next year. Preckwinkle recently met with U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., for help in getting final federal approval for a Medicaid waiver that could close the gap by tens of millions of dollars.

The waiver would allow the county, under the Affordable Care Act recently upheld by theU.S. Supreme Court, to quickly sign up about 100,000 uninsured people for Medicaid who now are getting free care at the county's hospitals and clinics.

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