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Toddler May Give Up Control of County Hospital

By Kevin Robinson in News on Jan 22, 2008 3:00PM

2008_1_Cook_County_Hospital.jpgJust days after the death of his father, Cook County Board President Todd Stroger has indicated that he may agree to give control of the county hospitals to an independent agency. Stroger's chief of staff Lance Tyson told Crain's Chicago Business "the intent is to take health services for the poor out of the sphere of politics and put it into a sphere of greater business expertise." The proposal to turn the county's health care system over to an independent body came last October, when a committee of business and health care executives commissioned to study the systemreleased their recommendations.

Stroger asked a group of seven Cook County Commissioners to study the proposal earlier this fall, and they have drafted a bill that would create an independent hospital authority with taxing, budget, contracting and hiring powers, including control over the appointment of the director of the Bureau of Health Services. Tyson says that Stroger needs to review the proposal before he can back it.

Both Stroger and the Cook County Board of Commissioners have been under increasing pressure to find a solution to the funding shortfalls the county's health care system faces. The Bureau of Health had a budget of $745 million in fiscal year '07, and accounts for about $100 million of the county's overall budget deficit. Critics have charged that the cost of operating the county's health care system is inflated by patronage and waste. Giving up control of Cook County's Bureau of Health Services could eliminate one of the major sources of patronage jobs in the county. Whether it will get to that point remains to be seen. According to Crain's, Stroger has made it clear that he won't consider any changes to the status quo until the board closes the $238 million gap in next year's budget.

Cook County Hospital via statlerhotel