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Health & Medicine Offers Testimony at Cook County Board Budget Hearing

Health & Medicine’s Executive Director Margie Schaps on Tuesday testified at the Cook County Board Budget Hearing in support of Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s preliminary fiscal year 2017 budget for the County.

“The Cook County Health & Hospitals System (CCHHS) is shifting its focus to public health, prevention, and addressing the social determinants of health—the things that will ultimately result in a healthier population and lower overall costs,” Schaps said. “But these savings do not happen overnight. The administration and board of the health system are to be commended for making these shifts.”

Since Health & Medicine’s founding in 1981, the organization has testified before the Board in support of a strong Cook County Health system.  The organization has contributed to several strategic plans, analyzed budgets, attended countless meetings, as well as conducted research and planning with and on behalf of the system.  Through its policy research efforts, Health & Medicine has studied public hospital systems around the country.

“CCHHS is unique and is a treasure to our county.  Their mission is clear and lays out their commitment to caring for all regardless of ability to pay,” Schaps said and defended increased budget allocations to the system.

“We recognize that these are difficult financial times for the county and that the implementation of the ACA may lull many into believing that the new money flowing into the system 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, many of the newly-insured are seeking healthcare for the first time in decades and present with complex behavioral and physical health needs that require more staff time, a greater array of services and therefore at a greater cost than the system was accustomed to,” Schaps testified.

The full text of Ms. Schaps remarks is available here. An executive budget recommendation is expected in October. This will be followed by public hearings and a final vote in November.