Suffredin- Changing County Government  

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 was created on January 15, 1831 and named after Daniel P. Cook, Member of Congress and the first Attorney from the State of Illinois.

New direct access health care program begins enrolling Cook County residents

Monday, April 17, 2017
Daily Northwestern
by Zoe Miller

Heather Charles/Chicago Tribune/TNS


Heather Charles/Chicago Tribune/TNS

Cook County commissioner Bridget Gainer speaks at a meeting in 2012. Gainer supported a new direct health care program geared toward uninsured residents.

Zoe Miller, Reporter
April 17, 2017

The direct access health care program, which was unanimously approved as an ordinance by Cook County commissioners in September, began in March. A direct access program is a type of health care program that establishes a network of centers that enrollees can use without paying initial fees.

The program was first proposed to the county by Healthy Communities Cook County, a group of healthcare organizations that advocates for improved healthcare access for uninsured residents. Cook County commissioners Bridget Gainer, Jesus Garcia and Robert Steele supported the program.

The program was established to help uninsured, low-income residents of Cook County obtain more affordable care, said Micaela Vargas, Gainer’s chief of staff. Often, she said, uninsured, low-income residents live in the U.S. without documentation and therefore do not qualify for the Affordable Care Act — an Obama-era bill that aimed to expand American healthcare.

Paradoxically, when uninsured people avoid health care because of cost, they end up being forced to pay more in the form of hospital visits, which are more expensive than other types of care, Vargas said.

Even if patients have no insurance, the Cook County health and hospital system is required to take in all patients in its emergency rooms, Vargas said. She added that emergency room services are often the most expensive care options.

“A lot of times, if you don’t have insurance, you’ll kind of wait and wait until your health deteriorates enough that you just have to go into the emergency room,” Vargas said.

Cook County Health and Hospitals System hospitals and clinics all offer free care under the program. The program also assigns a primary care provider and a list of available medical resources.

In addition, the program coordinates medical care so people can take advantage of care that’s already available to them. It also tracks a patient’s medical history and assigns staff to follow up with them afterward.

“People don’t know how to get the care that they need,” said Phoebe Flaherty, a member of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, an organization that helped petition the County to institute the program.

Organizing clients’ medical care, Flaherty said, could help them obtain care they would not otherwise receive and minimize costs.

“They’re being told that they’re not eligible for financial assistance when they in fact are,” Flaherty said. “People have access to resources, theoretically, but are not physically able to actually access those resources.”

In the future, Vargas said officials hope to further expand the program. She said the current iteration of the program is the first of several phases that have been planned.


Recent Headlines

Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Special to

Gun ranges in Chicago could be allowed in more areas under proposal
Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Chicago Tribune

Stop Congress from trashing Illinois’ concealed gun protections
Monday, April 17, 2017
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County CEO Jay Shannon: ACA repeal a threat to public health—and the public system's financial health
Monday, April 17, 2017
Fierce Healthcare

New direct access health care program begins enrolling Cook County residents
Monday, April 17, 2017
Daily Northwestern

Stakes are high for workers, businesses as Illinois considers minimum wage hike
Monday, April 17, 2017
Chicago Tribune

4 officers injured in Cook County Jail after inmates attempt to light jumpsuits on fire
Sunday, April 16, 2017
WLS ABC Eyewitness News

Sneed exclusive: Social media factors into crime-fighting plan
Saturday, April 15, 2017
Chicago Sun-Times

Former Doctor For Cook County Misspent Public Funds On Piano, Travel: Inspector General
Friday, April 14, 2017
CBS Chicago

Commissioners who took Cubs' ticket offer violated rules, county watchdog says
Friday, April 14, 2017
Chicago Tribune

Highly acclaimed Cook County judge indicted by Feds
Thursday, April 13, 2017
WLS Chicago

Alleged getaway driver Joshua Smith charged in Judge Myles murder
Thursday, April 13, 2017
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County shells out $1.6 million to cover mistakes in federal grant applications
Wednesday, April 12, 2017
Chicago Tribune

Cook County Clerk’s office: David Orr lauds legislation making birth records free of charge for homeless, domestic violence victims, formerly incarcerated
Wednesday, April 12, 2017
Chicago Coalition for the Homeless

Dorothy Brown's case-management plan advances after earlier trust questions
Wednesday, April 12, 2017
Chicago Tribune

Police say they have 'promising leads' in fatal shooting of Cook County judge
Tuesday, April 11, 2017
Chicago Tribune

Cook County judge shot to death outside his home in Chicago
Monday, April 10, 2017
St. Louis Dispatch

Cook County Sheriff: ICE Agents Shouldn’t Identify as Police
Saturday, April 08, 2017
WTTW Chicago Tonight

Residents raising stink over proposed compost facility near Des Plaines
Friday, April 07, 2017
Chicago Tribune

Why one of the biggest Medicaid insurers in Illinois is on life support
Thursday, April 06, 2017
Crain's Chicago Business

all news items

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