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Obamacare to cost Chicago and Cook County taxpayers $67 million

Obamacare causing grave financial problems for Obama's hometown and the rest of Cook County
Obamacare causing grave financial problems for Obama's hometown and the rest of Cook County

The public health system in Chicago is now faced with an incredible $67 million shortfall due to the Obamacare deal it has entered into, according to the Chicago Tribune on Monday. CountyCare is reportedly in tremendous financial trouble. Expenses in the program have surpassed revenues by some $21 million in the first six months of Cook County’s fiscal year, through May 31.

Unimaginably, the cash shortfall will likely increase to $63.5 million by Nov. 30 which is the end of the fiscal year. That gives the Cook County budget an estimated shortfall for 2014 of $85.9. The cost will be passed onto the Cook County taxpayers.

According to the Tribune report, 2015 doesn’t look any better. Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle projects a $168.9 million deficit for the county in fiscal 2015. Fiscal 2015 begins on Dec. 1. A $50 million deficit in the health care system is included in Preckwinkle’s projection.

CountyCare was supposed get money from the federal government as the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) provided Medicaid eligibility for more people. Initially, that money did come in as the county received $137 million for the more than 90,000 CountyCare patients in the first half of fiscal 2014. Those patients had to use CountyCare clinics and other facilities. However, that is changing in January when those patients are allowed to enroll in other health plans and choose different providers.

Therein lies the problem. CountyCare treatment to patients is costing more than previously expected. The concern is that if too many patients leave CountyCare – which is expected – the public health system will end up treating only those patients with the most complex, expensive health issues which includes many patients who have no insurance. That will make the financial situation even worse.

Dr. John Jay Shannon, the interim head of CountyCare, doesn’t sound encouraging to the taxpayers who will be stuck with the financial shortfall. He says that Chicago and Cook County’s CountyCare is a health system that has not always kept up with developments, the use of technologies and different things to help them be more effective. He describes the system as being an old-fashioned model that needs to be changed to be more effective and to become a more clinical operation.

The Daily Caller goes into more detail on the financial disaster for taxpayers. Basically, it says that Shannon is faced with having to come up with $67 million in savings from CountyCare just 4 months. Shannon has already told Crain’s that those are unrealistic expectations as CountyCare will not be some kind of profit center for the public health system at all. The Obama Administration released a report not long ago attempting to shame states for refusing $88 billion in free federal taxpayer funding to expand Medicaid. However, Cook County’s experience states that states may not be able to count on the programs to remain free and therefore end up losing big cash which the residents will need to cover via taxes.

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