Cook County Health and Hospitals CEO: Cutting 700 unfilled hospital positions is not 'realistic solution' to budget crisis

Cook County is laying off 1,100 people to make up for the loss of $68 million in potential revenue from a sweetened beverage tax that is held up in Illinois court, and officials can't agree on which departments to slash jobs from, according to WTTW.

Since the layoffs were announced, Cook County Sherriff Tom Dart has expressed concerns about the recommendation to lay off 925 of his employees, saying his department has already made major cuts.

At the Cook County Board meeting Wednesday, County Commissioner Stephen Toboslki said there's a simple solution to the problem — eliminate the 700 unfilled positions at Chicago-based Cook County Health and Hospitals.

"At the hospital, just those 700 positions, if they're budgeted at anywhere from 50-100, your savings could be anywhere from $50 million to $100 million," he said at Wednesday's meeting, according to the report.

However, Cook County Health and Hospitals CEO Jay Shannon, MD, said solving the budget issue is not that easy.

"If we have a surgeon who leaves tomorrow, I don't want to be in a situation where we can't hire another surgeon to give the care the patients deserve," he said. "I don't think it's a realistic solution."

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit brought by the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, which challenges implementation of the sweetened beverage tax. Ms. Preckwinkle said the judge will rule on that motion on Friday but expects the case to play out for years in court, according to the report.

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