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Cook County Rally for “Major Surgery” to Cure Health Care Crisis

February 18, 2008

Chicago, IL – Political surgery is just what the doctor ordered. Doctors will be among those rallying in Chicago today to call for an independent committee to devise a plan to rescue Cook County Health Services from financial crisis.

Al Sharp, of the Emergency Network to Save Cook County Health Services, believes taking oversight of the system away from the County Commission is the only way to keep the system's clinics and hospitals open.

"You have to have management reform before you can expect state officials to continue to fight for the kind of state and federal revenue necessary to run the system in the future."

Sharp says Cook County Health Services used to be an example to the rest of the country, for the healthcare safety net it provided. Today, he is hopeful that, with management changes, it can again be a shining example.

"I think the commissioners are looking at the alternatives. I'm optimistic that they will do the right thing, but it does require them to think differently than they have in the past. That's hard for all of us to do."

Cook County Health Services takes care of more than one million people, but some of its clinics have already been shut down because of ongoing financial woes. Sharp explains part of the problem has been caused by the system administrators, who didn't file the paperwork necessary to collect about $200 million in Medicare and Medicaid payments.

Deborah Smith/Eric Mack, Public News Service - IL