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Panel to Stroger: Less Politics, More Health Care

By Kevin Robinson in News on Oct 17, 2007 1:50PM

2007_10_cook_county_hospital.jpgA blue-ribbon committee of business and health care executives announced their recommendation yesterday that an independent board assume oversight of Cook County's health care system. The ten-member committee was appointed by Board President Todd Stroger last spring at the urging of Senator Dick Durbin. Stroger said that he is open to independent management of the county's health care system, stating the obvious to the Chicago Tribune: "It's obvious that the [County] Board does not work well as it is. There seems to be too much infighting to get anything accomplished at this point."

Divorcing politics from county health care systems isn't a new idea. Phoenix and Minneapolis both operate their public hospitals independently of county boards, and New York City has operated its public hospitals as a public benefit corporation since the 1970's. Taking political control of Cook County's health care system away from the county won't work unless the independent board is really independent. County Commissioner Jerry "Iceman" Butler, chair of the county's Health and Hospitals Committee doesn't like that idea. “I am willing to vote for a board that takes our place,” Butler told Crain's. “But (only) if we still control the money and answer to the people.”