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:  
   
 
 

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 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 forest worker was going 76 mph in 30 mph zone, had THC in system during fatal crash while on job: prosecutors
Thursday, July 19, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Judge faces ‘tough day’ in court answering charges he brought loaded gun to work
Thursday, July 19, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Preckwinkle, Evans end budget battle
Wednesday, July 18, 2018
Crain's Chicago Business

How Transparent and Accountable Are Chicago, Cook County Governments?
Wednesday, July 18, 2018
WTTW Chicago Tonight

2 Cook County courthouses to close, employees spared layoffs under budget settlement: officials
Wednesday, July 18, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Troubled detainee at center of unusual court fight between Loyola hospital, Cook County
Monday, July 16, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Cook County Commissioners Confounded by Hiring of Health System Consultant
Monday, July 16, 2018
WBEZ Chicago Public Radio

Doctor fired by Cook County medical examiner now under the microscope in Indiana
Sunday, July 15, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

County officials defend Forest Preserves police in wake of man harassing woman over Puerto Rican flag shirt
Friday, July 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Familiar questions about ‘bystander effect’ arise after man berates woman for Puerto Rico shirt
Friday, July 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Berrios' analysts used Zillow, other shortcuts in assessing property values, documents show
Friday, July 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Northbrook to revisit Cook County paid sick leave policy after opting out last year
Friday, July 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Cook County Forest Preserves officials discuss officer's resignation
Friday, July 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Amid video fallout, Cook County Forest Preserve District reveals fatal crash involving worker and governmental truck
Friday, July 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Transformation in the outdoors
Friday, July 13, 2018
Special to suffredin.org

Forest preserve cop resigns after apparently failing to help woman being harassed over Puerto Rico shirt
Thursday, July 12, 2018
Chicago Tribune

5 things: A civics lesson on Puerto Rico after man rants about woman's flag T-shirt, questions citizenship
Thursday, July 12, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Cook County Commissioners: Get Rid of Forest Preserve Police
Thursday, July 12, 2018
WTTW Chicago Tonight

Schneider wants hearing over fatal crash blamed on Cook forest preserve driver
Thursday, July 12, 2018
Daily Herald

Man who harassed woman for Puerto Rican flag shirt charged with hate crime
Thursday, July 12, 2018
WLS ABC 7 Chicago

all news items

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