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County Board plans public hearing on finances of hospitals system Tuesday

The Tuesday hearing will go over the the hospitals system's finances. Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin said it isn't about "shaming" the executives of the county's hospitals system, but about laying out "a corrective action plan." | Sun-Times file photo

The Cook County Board of Commissioners will meet with executives of the county’s health and hospitals system Tuesday for a public hearing on the system’s finances after two inspector general reports found faults in the system that resulted in lost revenue. The meeting will begin at 1 p.m. in the County Board room.

In March, Independent Inspector General Patrick Blanchard found that faults in patient scheduling and registration, as well as accurate coding and billing, resulted in the system losing out on $66 million because of denials in 2017, and over $108 million in 2016. In May, Blanchard issued a supplement to that report, estimating that the amount of lost revenue from 2015 to 2017 was around $165 million.

The Tuesday hearing will go over the the system’s finances. Commissioner Richard Boykin said the hearing isn’t about “shaming” the executives of the county’s hospitals system, but about laying out “a corrective action plan.”

“There were a number of areas where the inspector general found deficiencies,” Boykin said. “We have to make sure the staff is fully trained and we need to hear how we’re going to make sure every available dollar from insurers is collected.”

In April, Chief Executive Officer Jay Shannon said the health and hospitals system wasn’t “privy to the methodology” used in Blanchard’s reports or the details on how the conclusions were reached, but the executives of the system remain committed to providing care for everyone.

“We are well aware of the challenges the organization would have to transform to,” Shannon said. “This was anticipated both in our strategic plan … and it was animated by increases in hiring that we brought into those different services related to the revenue cycles.”

Caryn Stancik, spokesperson for the hospitals system, said health and hospitals is proud of the changes to billing patients it has made since 2014 and “we strive to improve our processes and capture every dollar that is owed to us but it is important to understand that no hospital collects 100 percent of what it bills.”

“As we continue to expand and mature our processes, we are confident that we will continue to see success in this area,” Stancik said.