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Cook County lands $100 million federal waiver

 Cook County lands $100 million federal waiverOriginally published in the October 29, 2012 edition of Crain’s Chicago Business

Cook County hit a $100 million jackpot over the weekend.

In a little noticed but crucial decision announced Friday night, the federal government signed off on a request by county board President Toni Preckwinkle to enroll 114,000 low-income people a year early in the Medicaid program.

For the county, the decision is worth as much as $100 million a year, since its network of hospitals and health clinics already is serving most of the patients free of charge. The tab now will be picked up by federal taxpayers under a provision of Obamacare, rather than by Cook County taxpayers alone.

“I am so pleased to see this result after many months of hard work,” Ms. Preckwinkle said in a statement. Winning approval of the waiver plan first in Springfield and then in Washington was “the top legislative priority of my administration,” she added.

County health CEO Ram Raju said the 144,000 now will get “a medical home,” with preventive care, primary care physicians, case management and other actions designed to heal them and keep them healthy.

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