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.
   
     
     
     



An unwelcome surprise from the Cook County health system

Monday, July 14, 2014
Chicago Tribune
by Editorial

CountyCare — that's Cook County's attempt to leverage federal dollars through a Medicaid managed care program — is in a heap of trouble. Expenses outstripped revenues by $21 million in the first six months of the county's fiscal year, through May 31. The shortfall is expected to grow to $63.5 million by the end of the fiscal year, Nov. 30. That's driving a projected $85.9 million shortfall in the 2014 Cook County budget.

Next year looks grim, too: Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle projects a $168.9 million deficit for the county in fiscal 2015, which starts Dec. 1, including a $50 million deficit in the health care system.

Meanwhile, the independent board that runs the county health system conducted a supposed nationwide search for a new chief executive and found its leader ... on its doorstep.

That would be Dr. John Jay Shannon, who has been interim boss since Dr. Ram Raju — the architect of CountyCare — decamped for New York in March.

Shannon, who was hired by the Cook County health system last year to lead the office of clinical integration, resigned under pressure in 2012 from his last job at Parkland Hospital in Dallas. The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid had found in 2011 that Parkland's patients were in "immediate jeopardy" of injury or death because of unsafe hospital conditions.

Shannon had worked for the Cook County system before he went to Parkland. County health officials say they're confident that Shannon had a hand in resolving problems at Parkland, not creating them. But shortly before he left Parkland, monitors placed there by the federal government had faulted hospital leaders for a weak turnaround effort.

All this suggests is that it's time for a critical reassessment of the management of the public health system here.

We have been fans of the independent operation of that system — it sure looked like a good idea when it stripped control of health care from the inept regime of former County Board President Todd Stroger.

But the financial failings of CountyCare and the questionable hiring and elevation of Shannon ought to force everyone to ask: What's going on here?

Shannon and the governing board run by Chairman David Carvalho have two big things to prove.

First, that Shannon can run a safe, efficient health system.

Second, that creating the independent board wasn't a mistake. It's supposed to be free of political meddling. It's not supposed to be free of accountability.

Preckwinkle can't force the board to operate more efficiently, but she is expected to come up with the cash to cover its deficit. She and taxpayers, that is.

Raju started a major restructuring of the health system to boost patient care and reduce the demand on taxpayers to subsidize that health system. It held great promise.

But health officials say CountyCare is running unexpected deficits.

Why were they blindsided? Shannon tells us that "the population that we're taking care of was truly terra incognita," meaning it was difficult to predict how and when these newly insured patients — many with serious, untreated chronic conditions — would seek care. The county also hired more staff to meet demand.

And why didn't the independent board move immediately to sharply control costs as soon as it saw spending was higher than anticipated?

CountyCare was designed to bring in an early haul from the federal government as the Affordable Care Act provided Medicaid eligibility for more people. It did bring a haul: The county reaped $137 million for the more than 90,000 CountyCare patients in the first six months of fiscal 2014.

Those patients were required to use CountyCare clinics and other facilities. That will change in January, when those patients will be free to enroll in other health plans and choose other providers.

That creates an unknown: CountyCare treatment is costing more than expected, but if too many patients leave CountyCare, the public health system could wind up treating only those patients with the most complex, expensive health issues, including many who have no insurance. The financial picture could get even worse.

"We have a health system that has not always kept up with developments, the use of technologies, different things to help us be more effective," Shannon tells us. "We've been on an old-fashioned model, an old chassis. We need to change that so we have more effective and efficient clinical operations."

Shannon has the opportunity now to do that. If he doesn't succeed, taxpayers are going to be left feeling pretty sick.



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