CBS 2 Chicago ran a story Wednesday night about a proposed Cook County ordinance that would heap a massive, $340 million tax on private hospitals within the county.
The tax — known as the so-called Healthcare Access Protection Initiative (HAPI) — would raise money from private hospitals to fund more indigent/charity care at the taxpayer-funded Cook County Hospital and Healthcare System.
Aside from threatening Cook County citizens' access to care by walloping hospitals with this massive tax — it would seem that this deeply flawed proposal might actually reduce the overall level of charity care provided within the county simply to increase the amount of charity care provided at a single hospital.
Would it surprise you that the SEIU labor union (which recently unionized doctors at Cook County Stroger Hospital) is behind the push for this new tax?
Who is Heather O'Donnell?
O'Donnell was co-author of the study (Download Charity Care Study_Final Released) upon which the entire "HAPI" ordinance is based — a study that was funded by the SEIU labor union (SEIU is given credit on page 38 of that study.)
In addition to this CBS 2 story, O'Donnell has been quoted in other news stories (such as this SouthtownStar story -- Download Hospitals_battle_county_on_care_for_t_) — apparently acting as the lead spokesperson for this tax effort.
Illinois Review is told that O'Donnell has also been meeting Cook County Commissioners' offices to promote the tax — yet, as you can see here (Download Activelobbyistsandclients), she is not listed as a registered lobbyist with Cook County.
But that's not the only conflict of interest.
You see, O'Donnell is also a member of the "independent board" that oversees the Cook County Health and Hospital System.
To review: O'Donnell is serving as an unregistered lobbyist for a massive healthcare tax, based on an SEIU-funded study — while serving on the oversight board of the county healthcare system?
But wait ... there's more!
The Cook County State's attorney contracted the Washington, DC law firm to write this legal opinion (Download 4 -- LegalOpinionMoreno-11-20-09) of the HAPI ordinance. As you can see on page 3 of that memo, the memo's author credits Heather O'Donnell for bringing prior legal proceedings to their attention.
Why in the world would Heather O'Donnell have anything at all to do with a legal memo written by a Washington, DC law firm hired by the Cook County State's Attorney?
In Cook County, as we've all learned, conflicts of interest are not uncommon. But, in this case, the CBS 2 news team missed a major story — and the lives, healthcare and pocketbooks could hang in the balance if this massive SEIU-backed healthcare tax passes through the Cook County Board.
Stay tuned ...