Delay is costing health system promised savings

  • By Alex Parker
  • Staff Writer
  • September 02, 2009 @ 8:00 AM

Back in March, when Cook County Health and Hospital System leaders pushed for approval of a controversial group purchasing plan, they said the move would save $20 million.

Now, as offficials prepare to sign the contract, the savings have shrunk to $5 million.

The plan was okayed despite criticism from county commissioners and local business owners about the plan. Vendors complain it cuts them out of hospital deals.

Health system spokesman Lucio Guerrero says the group purchasing plan is expected to save $20 million next year. The shortfall this year arose because the purchasing plan wasn't operating for the entire year.

It's unclear what led to the delays.

Following a series of public hearings in front of the Cook County Board of Commissioners and the board’s approval to move forward with a GPO, the contract is being reviewed by the state’s attorney’s office.

Cook County state's attorney spokesman Andy Conklin said his office received the contract Thursday, and was not sure when it would be approved.

"It's a major purchasing agreement and we'll give it the requisite time to make sure it's properly reviewed," he says.

Chairman Warren Batts has said the future savings are significant, ranging from $40 million to $60 million a year. The health system has a current agreement with Novation to purchase pharmaceuticals. Officials say the system has saved $21 million over the last three years.

Daily News Staff Writer Alex Parker covers public health. He can be reached at 773.362.5002, ext. 17, or alex [at] chitowndailynews [dot] org.