Suffredin- An Advocate for All of Us  

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

Cook County Health to buy piece of struggling insurer's Medicaid biz

Wednesday, September 20, 2017
Crain's Chicago Business
by Kristin Schorsch

Struggling Family Health Network is preparing to exit the Illinois Medicaid business and selling a huge piece of it to the Cook County Health & Hospitals System.

Effective Nov. 1, Cook County Health will take on more than 160,000 FHN members who live in Cook County and transition them to the health system's CountyCare Medicaid plan. That will more than double CountyCare's enrollment, which now is roughly 140,000, and make the insurer one of the largest Medicaid managed care plans in Illinois.

Sign up for the free Today's Crain's newsletter

FHN, which now has nearly 220,000 Medicaid members and is one of the largest Medicaid insurers in the state, plans to move its members who live outside of Cook County to another plan by Jan. 1, president and CEO James Kiamos said. He would not disclose which insurer, citing a non-disclosure agreement. Instead, the storied carrier, owned by five local hospitals and health systems that treat a large portion of impoverished patients, will focus on growing its small Medicare Advantage business.

Neither Kiamos nor Cook County Health CEO Dr. John Jay Shannon would disclose the cost of the deal. But Shannon added: "We're competing with national, privately held insurance plans. There are times we've got to act like one." Cook County Health, known as the safety net for the poor and uninsured, is one of the largest public hospital networks in the nation.

The agreement comes amid vast changes in Illinois Medicaid managed care, which Gov. Bruce Rauner is shaking up to squeeze out more savings. In managed care, the state pays private insurers to administer benefits to state Medicaid recipients and to focus on prevention. That involves making sure patients get routine checkups and avoid unnecessary emergency room visits and hospitalizations. The goal is to keep people healthy while saving the state money.

Rauner plans to further privatize Medicaid, with insurers eventually taking on 80 percent of recipients (they now cover about two-thirds of enrollees). Rauner made insurers re-bid for new contracts, and in August, he named six winners, cutting in half the number of existing participants.

Cook County Health was among the winners whose new contracts begin Jan. 1. FHN did not bid. Earlier in the year, FHN's board chairman said he feared the bidding process was locking the non-profit out of a new contract. Lawmakers have rallied to save the health plan.

As FHN looked to its future, Kiamos said the insurer was looking for a seamless transition for members and the physicians who treat them. Both FHN and Cook County Health, a two-hospital system with a network of outpatient clinics and providers at Cook County Jail, are in the Chicago area and have a history of serving low-income patients. Doctors who are part of the FHN network can contract with CountyCare instead, or opt out.

"The biggest priority for us … has been the continuity of care with physicians and members," Kiamos said. "That was one of the main items that made CountyCare the most attractive partner."

Shannon said having more CountyCare members would help balance out the financial risk of taking on sick and expensive patients.

"It's much easier to be able to have an impact on the communities that we serve if we're able to reach out and touch more of those individuals," he added.

FHN is not closing, Kiamos emphasized. The insurer plans to spend the next year winding down its Medicaid business, including paying back doctors who are owed money. In February, FHN's general counsel disclosed in a court filing that the health plan had largely stopped paying physicians amid the state budget crisis. The ripple effect? Several hospitals and hundreds of doctors cut ties with FHN, reducing access for patients.

Meanwhile, Kiamos said he hopes to find jobs for FHN's 380 employees, though some will stay on to help grow the remaining Medicare Advantage business.

Recent Headlines

City Club of Chicago: Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi
Friday, February 22, 2019
WGN Radio Chicago

Cook County Board approves $1.5 million settlement in 2013 jail beating case
Friday, February 22, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Cook County paid more than $1.23 million in worker’s comp benefits in January
Friday, February 22, 2019
Chicago City Wire

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart: “This has been a bipartisan disaster.”
Thursday, February 21, 2019
WGN Chicago

EDITORIAL: Don’t bungle MWRD’s plan for an independent inspector general
Thursday, February 21, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart Pivots To Podcasting To Fight Opioid Abuse
Thursday, February 21, 2019
WBEZ Chicago Public Radio

Cook County board votes to permanently dismantle gang database
Thursday, February 21, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

It's time to modernize the assessor's office
Wednesday, February 20, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

Body found in vehicle at Cook County Forest Preserve near Hoffman Estates
Tuesday, February 19, 2019
Daily Herald

Local legislators tout efforts to help those facing mental health issues
Tuesday, February 19, 2019
Pioneer Press

It's time to modernize the assessor's office
Monday, February 18, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

EDITORIAL: We could have taken Gary Martin’s gun away
Monday, February 18, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Hours before Aurora mass shooting, former mayors met in Chicago to discuss strategies to reduce gun violence
Friday, February 15, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Illinois Supreme Court sets civil, criminal fee schedule
Thursday, February 14, 2019
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Seniors: Are your Cook County property taxes delinquent? Your home could be at risk
Thursday, February 14, 2019
WLS Abc 7 Chicago

Editorial: Look out, taxpayers: When governments have more pensioners than employees
Thursday, February 14, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Hundreds of accused criminals on electronic monitoring are missing
Wednesday, February 13, 2019
ABC Channel 7

Glenview adopts Cook County minimum wage and sick leave ordinances, effective July 1
Tuesday, February 12, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Lawsuit over property tax assessments survives challenge
Monday, February 11, 2019
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Thursday, February 07, 2019
Special to

all news items

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