October 27, 2017
Cook County is in the midst of a budget crisis. The tax on sugar sweetened beverage was repealed earlier this month, leaving the County with a $200 million budget hole. To fill that gap, the Cook County Health & Hospitals System is being asked to find millions of dollars in cuts that we cannot afford.
I am proud to say that for the last several years, our health system has closed our books with a balanced budget. A notable feat for a system that historically operated with a multi-million dollar deficit. And we have achieved this financial milestone even while receiving 75% less taxpayer funding from Cook County residents. Today, we receive about $110 million from the County of Cook to help support the health system’s operations and services we provide that are not reimbursable, like public health, health care to detainees at the jail, and some charity care for the uninsured. The allocation represents approximately 5% of our operating budget as a health care provider. In all, since 2009, CCHHS’ reduced allocation has allowed Cook County to redirect nearly $2.5 billion to other purposes.
Each year we serve approximately 300,000 patients, 140,000 members of our Medicaid managed care health plan, CountyCare, and more than 2 million residents in suburban Cook County through our Department of Public Health. We strive to keep our patients and members in good health through comprehensive primary and preventive care. Not only is this the most cost effective way to provide care, but more importantly, it helps keeps those we serve healthy and productive so they can continue to live a full life and contribute to society. Our two hospitals, Stroger and Provident, provide 45% of all charity care in Cook County- a region with 70 other hospitals-amounting to millions of dollars each year.
Any reduction in our funding will result in a reduction in services, drastically impacting the care we provide to our patients and hindering our ability to protect the health of those in Cook County, particularly those who are the most vulnerable.
We have fulfilled our mission to care for all in need for more than 180 years and we hope to continue for generations to come.
I am urging our patients, supporters and partners to speak out on behalf of the health system and the services we provide at the upcoming hearings on the Cook County budget.
You can also reach out to your Commissioner directly. Click here for more information.
Please see the next story for details about how you can share your voice and protect our health care safety net.
-Dr. Jay Shannon, CEO, CCHHS