On June 4, the Institute of Medicine Chicago brought policymakers, health care providers and advocates together for a “State of the Health of Chicago” summit. The summit covered issues affecting the health of all city residents. Among the speakers were Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Dr. Ramanathan Raju, CEO of the Cook County Health and Hospital System, and Dr. Bechara Choucair, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health.
President Toni Preckwinkle spoke to the challenges of administering a social safety net health care system for 5.3 million residents. Some of the facts she shared during her talk:
- 35 percent of the county budget is health care, or approximately $1 billion.
- 58 percent of inpatients in health care system have no insurance.
- 8-10 percent of uninsured patients come from outside the county, from areas without public health hospitals.
- The county will be replacing four board members within the next month.
- There is a long lead time to fill positions within the healthcare system because of lawsuits over hiring.
- While the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act excludes undocumented workers, the county will continue to treat them.
- The county is moving aggressively to obtain a waiver from the federal government to enroll residents who will be eligible for Medicaid in 2014 under health care reform.
Dr. Ramanathan Raju also spoke about the situation within the county. Specifically, he discussed difficulties in allocating resources, the need to emphasize primary and preventative care to reduce costs spent on specialty treatment, and the shift of uninsured patients from the city to the south suburbs.
Finally, Dr. Bechara Choucair, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Health, presented the city’s health care initiative, Healthy Chicago, which was launched in 2011. You can view the slidedeck from his presentation online. A few items worth noting:
- HIV prevention is the largest unit within CDPH.
- The city has recruited Dr. Stephanie Whyte to be the medical director of the Chicago Public Schools; school-based dental care is an important area of focus.
- The city is partnering with seven federally qualified health centers to provide care.
- The department wants to work with philanthopic groups to strengthen the Healthy Chicago initiative.
The Institute of Medicine Chicago has pledged that this summit will be the first of many and that the dental community will be part of the agenda. We'll keep you informed.