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The Tribune proposes to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory...

Health & Medicine Policy Research Group (HMPRG)
December 29, 2009
From Quentin Young (Health & Medicine's Founder and Chairman) and Margie Schaps (Health & Medicine's Executive Director):  The admittedly complex reality of Cook County budgeting has miraculously produced the preconditions for genuine fiscal and medical reform.  The creation of an independent board which has proven to be dedicated and effective in confronting the political mess that passes for county government is a marvelous civic achievement.  Its early track record is laudable, with significant reforms already in place. This was accomplished in an era requiring serious budget reductions.

Remember, also, that their decisions were made in an environment of increased need from the growing number of uninsured sick people.

This is the precise moment to reward the Independent Board’s virtue with support in this historic transition from maladministration to a reliable efficient service to those in need.  The County Board and the public should heed Health System CEO William Foley’s clear- eyed report that the recent abrupt further reductions in the health budget will wreak havoc.  It will force cutting of vital health services during this critical period. 

The County Board recently reduced the odious sales tax by half.  This is certainly popular with the tax- burdened public. But to slash revenue at this moment of significant reform is opportunist and dangerous. Our nation’s economy is troubled; the County’s resources are even more stressed. 

The challenge we in Cook County face is: can we continue to move to a more accountable, more effective health system at this time.  We believe achieving this requires prudent but adequate funding of the Independent Board’s program of reform.  This requires securing available state and federal governmental funding, continuing to improve insurance collections, and expanded grant support that has been neglected heretofore.