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At Issue: County Hospitals Resisting Efforts To Cut Budget Any Further

Author: Craig Dellimore

CHICAGO (CBS) — The head of Cook County’s healthcare system said he’s prepared to defend his budget to some skeptical county board members as they try to make up for loss of revenue after repealing the unpopular soda tax.

At a daylong hearing this week, and in talks with the media, Cook County Health and Hospitals CEO Dr. Jay Shannon insisted the system’s budget should not be cut more than he already has outlined for the Cook County Board.

A few county commissioners seem incredulous that, in a budget of $2.5 billion, the county hospital system cannot find $25 million in cuts.However, Shannon said much of his department’s budget comes from Medicaid funding through the Affordable Care Act, and other state and federal funds. What comes from the county is a lot less.

“We will share with them transparently the information that we have, and the case that we have to make for why something should be preserved; and if something needs to be cut, what the downstream consequences of that’s going to be,” he said.

Shannon said additional reductions for his budget would mean not only cutting essential services from the poor, but revenue from paying for patients as well.

Still, he said he’s ready to talk.

“It’s not going to get any easier next year, or the year after that, so we are going to work in concert with the commissioners and with our staff to do everything we can to minimize the damage that this has on the people and the communities that we serve,” he said.

Shannon is the guest on this weekend’s edition of At Issue, airing Sunday at 9:30 p.m. on WBBM Newsradio 780 and 105.9FM.

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