CHICAGO (CBS) — The latest Cook County Board hearing on the budget had an outward tone of cooperation, but some commissioners seem to be looking hard for deeper cuts to make in the massive Health and Hospitals System.
There was close questioning all day Tuesday for Dr. Jay Shannon, who heads Cook County’s Health and Hospitals System, but Cmsr. Jeff Tobolski bore down hardest, saying the budget cuts hospital officials propose are not enough.
“We’re simply saying that some hard decisions may have to be made, and we’re hoping that you make the ones that are in the best interest of the hospital, first and foremost, but should I say, the people of Cook County,” Tobolski said.
Tobolski says he wants to work with Cook County Hospital officials, but without revenue from the now-defunct sweetened beverage tax to count on, the proposed budget reductions by Hospital officials are not enough.
“We’re in a situation of needing to cut, and so we have to look at taxpayer dollars, and where we can cut those taxpayer dollars because we are two hundred million short,” Tobolski said.
Dr. Shannon replied that layoffs, or other major cuts, could mean cutting services.
“We have to be able to protect the vital health services function that we serve for the county, and so we want to do that in a way that inflicts the least amount of pain on the vulnerable communities that we serve,” Dr. Shannon said.
And he says, cutting services could also mean lost revenue.