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Cook County Health projects up to $100 million revenue gap

The county’s health fund, which covers the Health and Hospital system, had a projected shortfall of $60 million to $75 million in April, according to Ammar Rizki, the county’s chief financial officer.

The Cook County Seal
Cook County Building. | Sun-Times file photo
Brian Jackson/Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County Health officials updated their projected revenue shortfall Friday, projecting that part of the budget hole to be as large as $100 million due to a decline in patient charges because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The system has seen charges decline by about 40% since Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s initial stay-at-home order took effect March 21, Andrea Gibson, the health system’s interim chief business officer, said at a virtual meeting of Cook County Health’s Finance Committee.

Gibson said because of the 40% decline in charges the system is seeing a revenue loss between $75 million and $100 million through June based on information available as of mid-May that’s subject to change.

For that same time period, Gibson said the system will “be expending $10 to $15 million” on supplies, equipment and other expenses.

In March, the health system was behind budget by $36.6 million — of that, the system attributes $14.5 million to lost patient-fee revenue because of the pandemic, Gibson said.

An April preliminary projection showed the pandemic was blowing a sizable hole in the county’s budget.

The county’s health fund, which covers the Health and Hospital system, had a projected patient-fee revenue shortfall between $60 million and $75 million in April, said Ammar Rizki, the county’s chief financial officer.

Revenues feeding into the health fund had declined by 43%, and charges related to uninsured and insured patients have dropped by 52% and 40% respectively, according to the April projections. Expenses related to coronavirus have increased by $25 million.

The county projected a revenue shortfall of about $200 million in that April outlook thanks to the pandemic’s effect on the county’s general operations.

That hole is largely due to decreased revenue from the county’s sales tax and other home rule taxes, such as the hotel accommodations tax.