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Board Member Michael Gelder Appointed to Pritzker Transition Team

Nov 16, 2018

Founding Health & Medicine Board Member Michael Gelder has been appointed to the Healthy Children and Families Committee of Governor-elect JB Pritzker’s transition team.

Capitol Fax reported the announcement sharing that the committee is the third of several working groups of the transition made up of subject-matter experts who will advise and guide the incoming Pritzker-Stratton administration. The Healthy Children and Families Committee will be chaired by state Sen. Heather Steans, Howard Brown Health President and CEO David Munar, and Children’s Home and Aid President and CEO Nancy Ronquillo and consist of 36 members.

Gelder has been a member of the Health & Medicine Board since the organization’s founding in 1981. He is a former Senior Health Policy Advisor to Governor Pat Quinn and served as Deputy Director for the Illinois Department on Aging. Gelder is currently Adjunct Lecturer of Preventive Medicine at  Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine as well as Adjunct Faculty at the UIC School of Public Health.

Schaps Testifies Before Cook County Board: "We must continue to provide the needed resources for CCHHS to flourish."

Oct 31, 2018

On Monday, October 29, the following testimony by Health & Medicine's Executive Director Margie Schaps on the proposed budget for Cook County Health was presented to the Cook County Board. Schaps urged the Board to approve a budget that will allow the Health System to succeed and flourish while allowing the it to fully implement a strategic vision that will ultimately reduce costs and improve the health of the residents of the County.

My name is Margie Schaps, and I am the Executive Director of the Health and Medicine Policy Research Group. I want to thank the Board for allowing me the opportunity to testify in support of a fully funded Cook County Health and Hospitals system budget. Health and Medicine has since 1981 been an organization committed to developing and supporting systems and policies that create a healthier society.

I have testified before the County Board and the Health System Board since our inception and always in the interest of supporting a strong Cook County Health System for the most marginalized and excluded people in our County. At Health & Medicine we spend a lot of time researching best practices and developing solutions that will provide better, more efficient and effective health care for all—particularly those served by pubic systems.
We are at a crossroads right now.  Federal leadership threatens access to healthcare for the poor and for all. The ACA is hanging on by a thread, but here in Illinois we at least have a commitment to the continuation of Medicaid expansion. This Health System is the cornerstone of our commitment to health care for all. The County Health System has just made a big leap in taking on the responsibility for caring for nearly 100,000 additional people over the next year. Now is a moment that the health system can be a leader in developing a high quality, highly efficient health care delivery system, focused on primary care, prevention, addressing underlying social determinants of health, high touch intervention for those with multiple chronic conditions, mental illness, substance use disorders, and more. We could be a national model for efficient and effective care that will truly improve the health of the public and lower medical costs in the long run.  We know how to do this and we can do it with leadership, and yes, continued investment in the system.

Public health services and healthcare to detainees at the jail, and care for the thousands of uninsured in the county, are services that are our obligation as a County. They are in the mission statement of the County and the health system, and they are services that are not covered through any mechanism other than the County tax support. Lowering the subsidy provided to the Health System would mean reneging on our obligations to serve, reducing our ability to respond to things such as foodborne illness outbreaks, and health services for detainees that might help them stay out of jail. Public health threats like Zika require intense surveillance and intervention by the public health department—again, not inexpensive, but imperative and with dire consequences if underfunded.

CCHHS is unique and is a treasure to our county. Its mission is clear and lays out a commitment to caring for all regardless of ability to pay. Its practice is priceless: they train healthcare providers who are mission-driven and expert in working with patients with complex needs; they have forged relationships with health centers, support services, hospitals, and related services across the county to ensure continuity and high quality care for their patients.

We recognize that these are difficult financial times for the County and that the implementation of the ACA and expanded numbers of Medicaid covered people in the County System may lull some into believing that the new money flowing in is enough to cover all of the services the Health System provides.  This is NOT true—we still have hundreds of thousands of people in our County without health insurance, some not eligible for insurance. Many of the newly insured are seeking healthcare for the first time in decades and present with complex behavioral and physical health needs—requiring more staff time, a greater array of services, and therefore at a greater cost than the System was accustomed to.  Due to federal cutbacks and threats to the ACA, navigators who help people sign up for insurance have been eliminated from the federal budget, leaving many who might be eligible for Medicaid or Marketplace coverage not even aware of it, and placing additional burden on the public sector.

Finally I think we must not take new taxes off the table for discussion. Other municipalities have established differential property tax rates for vacant properties. The District of Columbia taxes occupied residential property at $0.85 per $100 value, but vacant properties at $5 per $100 and blighted property at $10 per $100.  If implemented in Cook County, a policy like this would generate millions and incentivize building on vacant lands.

The County is making tremendous progress in reducing the numbers of people who are incarcerated—but those that are in the system require extensive health and behavioral health interventions. New programs and collaborations are commendable but will not immediately reduce expenditures. It is the job of this Board to approve a budget that will allow the health system to succeed. We must continue to provide the needed resources for the System to flourish, provide the services they are obligated to provide, and allow the System to fully implement the strategic vision that will ultimately reduce costs and improve the health of the residents of the County. We cannot abandon the most marginalized in our county. We must fully support the health system.

Health & Medicine Condemns Trump Administration’s Proposed “Public Charge” Rule Change

Oct 12, 2018

This past Wednesday, October 10, the Trump Administration officially issued a proposed rule change related to “public charge” determinations. This is another abhorrent attack on the health and wellbeing of immigrants and their families that is meant to scare them from seeking access to programs that support healthcare, nutrition, and housing. Health & Medicine Policy Research Group joins immigrants and our partners to condemn this unjust and immoral proposal. As a member of Protecting Immigrant Families-Illinois we urge all of our partners to join us in fighting back.

What can you do? In short, advocates have sixty days from its posting date to submit public comments in opposition to this rule change. You can make a comment at this page and if you need guidance, you can click here.

There will be two webinars on Monday, October 15, 2018 about this change:
What would this rule change do? If it were to be adopted, the proposed “public charge” rule change would vastly expand the number of public benefits—to such programs as Medicaid, Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, Medicare Part D, and Section 8 housing vouchers—that would be considered when making a determination of whether or not someone will be considered a “public charge.”

Under this proposal, immigrants being deemed a current or likely future “public charge” via use of the proposed expanded list of life-saving and health promoting programs would make it much more difficult for immigrants to obtain visas, extend visas, or to adjust their status to become lawful permanent residents. This adds to the other Trump Administration policies, practices, and rhetoric against immigrants that create a climate of fear, anxiety, and trauma—causing direct harm to people. This is structural violence and it is unjust.

This is not a done deal and we must fight back. The proposed rule change is not a final rule, it is not currently in effect, and we have a comment period to provide input. We must fight back both to go on record in opposition and to try to defeat this proposal. Every comment is important both for registering current opposition and for future legal challenges to the rule change.

This proposal is an unacceptable attack on human beings. We must also let public officials know in no uncertain terms that we see their repressive proposal for what it is: xenophobic, anti-immigrant, racist, and classist. It is unacceptable and must be resisted and rejected.

Let’s stand together. Health & Medicine stands with our immigrant sisters, brothers, and family members. The Trump Administration’s attacks on families do not stand the tests of morality or justice, and will not stand the test of time or history. Join us in this struggle for justice. Make it known to the Trump Administration that their harmful attacks on immigrants are wrong and that you oppose their proposed change to the “public charge” rule.
More information and resources are forthcoming. Protecting Immigrant Families-Illinois will be updating its fact sheet soon and Health & Medicine will post the update here when it is available. You can also sign up for updates from Protecting Immigrant Families-Illinois by emailing

Additionally, while brief comments can be submitted to the portal now, Protecting Immigrant Families-Illinois will also be circulating template comments for organizations to customize and submit. To receive these and other updates from Health & Medicine, join our mailing list.

Other resources:

Health & Medicine to Observe Indigenous Peoples' Day

Oct 04, 2018

On October 8, 2018, for the first time in the organization’s history, Health & Medicine Policy Research Group will be observing Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

The Indigenous Peoples of America have rich cultures and continue to show strength and resilience in the face of adversity and injustice. They have experienced thefts of their lands, languages, property, and lives since the arrival of settlers from Europe. This struggle for justice continues today, and Native People are often at the forefront of movements against inequities and for their own survival and wellbeing. Indigenous Peoples’ Day is an opportunity to celebrate the contributions of Native People and lend our voice in support of all those seeking freedom, sovereignty, and justice.

The definition of health equity that guides our work at Health & Medicine requires that those working to advance equity value all individuals and populations equally and work to recognize and rectify historical injustices. Our decision to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day honors that work by challenging the sanitized histories that are often taught about the United States and its founding, a history that contributes to health inequities to this day.

In short, we believe that historical context matters to health equity and that celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a step towards recognizing the full scope of American history and the unfinished work of advancing justice.

As public health and healthcare policy leaders, Health & Medicine invites our partners, other organizations, and our broader government to likewise celebrate and honor Indigenous People’s Day.