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.
   
     
     
     



A stronger pulse
Carvalho, like Batts before him, needs to give Cook's health system intensive care

Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Chicago Tribune

The independent panel that runs Cook County's health system has a new chairman, David Carvalho. Chosen by his fellow board members last week, he replaces the no-nonsense Warren Batts, who grappled with meddling county pols and spreadsheets that dripped red ink.

Carvalho needs to lead the health panel with the same do-it-better-for-less attitude that Batts championed in his four years as the panel's first and only chairman. Here's why:

As is, the county health system clings to annual fantasies of overly optimistic revenues, only to bust its budgets year after year. That doesn't build confidence, either among members of the Cook County Board or among taxpayers whose dollars fund much of the medical care. What's more, the system never has the momentum, or the money, to focus primarily on delivering better quality care. That's never been more crucial than it will be as more of its patients gain the freedom to get their care elsewhere.

Carvalho has a strong background. He chaired the panel's Finance Committee the last four years and, before that, helped get Stroger Hospital built. He knows that the county's system has an improving but still thready pulse: As of the end of July, the health system was $21.7 million short of its budget in collecting patient fees, health system CEO Ram Raju tells us.

But that's better than the numbers at the same point in 2011: Then, the county was $60.1 million short.

Credit Raju's aggressive streamlining for the improved bill of health. Raju has whittled down a mountain of backlogged billing statements that weren't being mailed to patients and their insurers, and he has helped the county grab more federal funding.

This is vital because as the county's health and hospital system budget goes, so goes the financial health of Cook County government. Last year, for example, the health system burst its $911 million budget by nearly $170 million. At the same time, the county's roughly $3 billion total budget hemorrhaged red by nearly the same amount. That is, the county had a deficit mostly because its health system had a deficit. This year, as of the end of May, county government was running an $11 million surplus — yes, a surplus — that would be larger if the health system was delivering all of its expected revenue.

Carvalho leads a panel with four new members but the same urgent mission: Stabilize the patient.

One key: Attract and retain Medicaid patients. In 2014, when Obamacare fully kicks in, thousands of county patients suddenly will be covered by insurance. They can choose where they get their care. Carvalho & Co. need to make sure the county keeps most of those patients and their Medicaid reimbursements.

The county needs to make the system "more attractive to patients," Carvalho tells us, "or once they have choices, they will go elsewhere." If that happens, the system will be left mainly with the uninsured poor who can't pay for the services they receive. No insurance or government program will reimburse Cook County taxpayers for their care.

That's one reason Cook County officials are asking federal officials for permission to add 115,000 of those new Medicaid patients to the rolls early, before their 2014 eligibility. Most of these patients already are being treated in county clinics and hospitals. Signing them up for Medicaid early wouldn't cost the state a penny it isn't already paying. The federal reimbursement, which covers about half of Medicaid treatment costs, could be a $198 million windfall for the county health system, Raju tells us.

These early arriving Medicaid patients would be able to obtain care only in the county's system until 2014. After that, yes, they could go anywhere for treatment. But those months would give the county a prime opportunity to earn the loyalty, trust — and future business — of those patients.

Raju is driving a smart shift in focus from inpatient care to outpatient services. That shift to a more robust primary care model provides preventive and other early services so that people don't end up in the hospital for expensive stays that they — and hard-pressed county taxpayers — can't easily afford.

Carvalho is a lawyer, not a doctor, but he needs to be a healer of the county's health system. The patient is improving. But it needs intensive care.



Recent Headlines

Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas on unclaimed property tax exemptions: ” Most seniors didn’t know that they could get it.”
Friday, July 19, 2019
WGN Chicago

Top Forest Preserve cop quits after burying ticket of county pol’s pal who asked ‘Do you know who I am?’
Friday, July 19, 2019
Chicago Tribune

EDITORIAL: ‘Do you know who I am?’ Not yet, but we sure know your type
Friday, July 19, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County Commissioner Luis Arroyo says he got a friend’s parking ticket voided
Friday, July 19, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Chicago-Area Cooling Centers Offer Residents Chance to Beat the Heat
Thursday, July 18, 2019
NBC 5 Chicago

Editorial: ‘Do you know who I am?’ Not yet, but the people of Cook County deserve to find out.
Thursday, July 18, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Top Forest Preserve cop quits after burying ticket of county pol’s pal who asked ‘Do you know who I am?
Wednesday, July 17, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Chicago’s top cop ‘must stop misleading the public’ about violence, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle says in heated letter to Mayor Lori Lightfoot
Wednesday, July 17, 2019
Chicago Tribune

‘Do you know who I am?’ Investigators say Cook County commissioner pressed cops to scrap ally’s $250 parking ticket
Tuesday, July 16, 2019
Chicago Tribune

IG: Cook County needs revamp on sexual harassment outside of work following allegations against Preckwinkle ex-chief of staff
Tuesday, July 16, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Higher Assessments Hit North Suburban Commercial Property Owners
Thursday, July 11, 2019
Evanston Patch

How did an inmate get a loaded gun into Cook County Jail?
Thursday, July 11, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Check exemptions, file an appeal: What you can do to fight your Cook County property tax bill
Thursday, July 11, 2019
WGN Chicago

’A lack of mental health services has plagued Chicago for decades’: Holy Cross Hospital expanding to fill that void on the Southwest Side
Wednesday, July 10, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Construction Begins on New Cook County Health Center
Wednesday, July 10, 2019
Daily Herald

How To Appeal Your Cook County Property Tax Assessment
Wednesday, July 10, 2019
CBS Chicago

County Commission Hopes to Increase 2020 Census Participation
Wednesday, July 10, 2019
WTTW News

Cook County Property Tax Bills: Where Does Your Money Go?
Wednesday, July 10, 2019
CBS Chicago

Seniors Receive Inflated Property Tax Bills By Mistake
Tuesday, July 09, 2019
WBBM Radio

Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts’ property tax appeal under investigation after Tribune finds assessment problem
Tuesday, July 09, 2019
Chicago Tribune

all news items

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