Uncompensated care 'wreaking havoc' on Cook County Health finances

Cook County Health expects to provide roughly $590 million in uncompensated care this year, a reality that is "wreaking havoc" not only on the Chicago-based health system's finances, but on the county government's, according to NPR affiliate WBEZ.

Cook County Health treats some of the most vulnerable people in Illinois. Many of them are uninsured or underinsured. As a result, the health system has seen its uncompensated care costs skyrocket 88 percent in the last six years, with charity care representing the biggest part of that tab, followed by uncollected payments.

The financial strain has led Cook County Health to cut at least 750 vacant positions, a move that has created some staffing issues, according to WBEZ. The financial struggles have also trickled into the county government, which expects to face a $308 million budget deficit in four years. About two-thirds of the deficit reflects the health system. 

In the past few months, Cook County Health has lost its CEO and CFO, and suspended large projects. Interim Cook County Health CEO Debra Carey told county commissioners in late February more cuts could be coming, according to WBEZ. Ms. Carey declined the publication's request for an interview.

Read the full report here.

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