Like many public sys­tems, Cook County gets boost from ACA

Modern Healthcare - - REGIONAL NEWS - —Adam Ruben­fire

The Af­ford­able Care Act has pro­vided a much-needed boost to public providers such as the Cook County Health and Hos­pi­tals Sys­tem, the two-hos­pi­tal public sys­tem that serves Chicago and its sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties.

Now that the sys­tem has more in­sured pa­tients, its bad debt and char­ity obli­ga­tions fell 46% to $191.4 mil­lion dur­ing the first year in which the ACA’s in­di­vid­ual in­sur­ance man­date was in ef­fect. The sys­tem posted a sur­plus of $14.1 mil­lion in the fis­cal year ended Nov. 30, 2014, ac­cord­ing to au­dited re­sults, up sig­nif­i­cantly from a $93.1 mil­lion deficit the year be­fore.

The push to in­sure Amer­i­cans also brought new en­rollees to Coun­tyCare, Cook County’s new Med­i­caid man­aged-care pro­gram. In 2014, CCHHS re­ceived $656 mil­lion in re­im­burse­ments for Coun­tyCare, up from $117.5 mil­lion the pre­vi­ous year.

More money from Coun­tyCare helped boost sys­tem rev­enue, which to­taled $1.3 bil­lion in 2014, up 78% from $709.5 mil­lion the pre­vi­ous year.

The sys­tem still suf­fered an op­er­at­ing loss of $213.7 mil­lion be­cause of in­creased costs from serv­ing more pa­tients, but that loss was nearly half of its $394.4 mil­lion op­er­at­ing loss the year be­fore.

“(Public hos­pi­tals) have a greater amount of pa­tients ar­riv­ing with in­sur­ance cards, and that has helped pay bills that were pre­vi­ously un­paid or paid by other public en­ti­ties,” said Peter But­ler, as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor and chair­man in the depart­ment of health sys­tems man­age­ment at Rush Univer­sity in Chicago.

Cook County’s Stroger Hos­pi­tal.

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