Suffredin- For a Better Cook County  

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.

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

Challenge to filing fee has some worth
Monday, April 16, 2018
Chicago Daily law Bulletin

Tougher SNAP rules worry providers
Friday, April 13, 2018
Modern Healthcare

Cook County tax officials take excess campaign donations from appeals firms, ethics panel says
Friday, April 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Cook County’s 'Next Century' Plan To Maintain Forest Preserves
Wednesday, April 11, 2018

What happens when a hospital sells its debt?
Tuesday, April 10, 2018
WWNO New Orleans Public Radio

Federal funds to bolster election security may fall short in Chicago, Cook
Monday, April 09, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

New autopsy rulings bring Cook County cold death total to 31 this season
Thursday, March 29, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Forest Preserves of Cook County Summer Day Camp Registration Opens April 2
Thursday, March 29, 2018
Special to

Cook County sues Facebook, Cambridge Analytica after alleged misuse of millions of Illinoisans' data
Monday, March 26, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Unsung Heroine Award to Emily Guthrie
Wednesday, March 21, 2018
Evanston Roundtable

Editorial: In four letters, why people leave Cook County: J-O-B-S
Wednesday, March 21, 2018
Chicago Tribune

In a twist, Cook County wins $9 million verdict tied to jail strip-search settlement
Tuesday, March 20, 2018
Chicago Tribune

15 got promotions from Court Clerk Dorothy Brown within 6 months of donations
Friday, March 16, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Assessor Berrios loses court fight to overturn Cook County's limits on campaign donations
Wednesday, March 14, 2018
Chicago Tribune

$70 million and counting? Cook County taxpayers face massive tab for sheriff board firings
Wednesday, March 14, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Commentary: Dart's misguided approach to jail reform
Monday, March 12, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Editorial: Commissioners: Shelve this Cook County job killer
Monday, March 12, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Cook County alerting investors, delinquent property taxpayers of coming tax sale
Friday, March 09, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Agnes Lattimer, who became Cook County Hospital medical director and campaigned against lead poisoning, dies
Thursday, March 01, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Emily Williams Guthrie Honored as 2018 Unsung Heroine
Thursday, March 01, 2018
Special to

all news items

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