CHICAGO-A new $625 million Cook County (Ill.) Hospital would save taxpayers $346 million over five years, the consulting and accounting firm of Coopers & Lybrand said in a report issued last month. It would cost $1.27 billion for the first five years of building and operating a new 525-bed Cook County Hospital in Chicago, but that's still the least expensive alternative to renovating or continuing to operate the existing 932-bed, 81-year-old facility. Savings would come from reducing the current staff of 6,488 people working in 13 buildings to 4,010 working in one building. The cost of bond financing for the new hospital would total $566 million with an annual debt-service payment of $45 million. "Change is coming, but no matter how much the system changes over the next decade, certain individual and societal needs won't change," said the hospital's top administrator, Ruth Rothstein. "Those who advocate a wait-and-see attitude are really asking for Cook County Hospital to be shut down, because we'll reach a point within the next few years where we simply can't meet accreditation standards given the age of this building." Coopers & Lybrand said the hospital has had to spend $80 million in the past three years to upgrade the facility so it would meet accreditation requirements.
MADISON, Wis.-A bill that would eliminate Wisconsin's tax exemption for hospitals was introduced in the Wisconsin Gen-
eral Assembly by Rep. Rebecca Young (D-Madison) and Sen. Joe Wineke (D-Verona). The bill would discontinue the exemption from state and property taxes without regard for the level of community service or charity care rendered by a hospital or other similarly exempted organization, hospital advocates said. Other not-for-profit targets of the legislation would include Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Wisconsin, multispecialty medical clinics and HMOs. The Wisconsin Hospital Association said no immediate action is expected on the bill, which has been submitted to a tax analysis committee for review.
MADISON, Wis.-Hospital revenues increased to $4.8 billion in Wisconsin in 1992, but higher costs cut profits from 1991 levels, a state report said. The report by the state Office of Health Care Information said the 11.2% dip in total net income to $222 million seemed to reflect the changing healthcare market. Factors cited included lower occupancy rates, higher costs, skimpier reimbursement rates and more intense scrutiny from managed-care programs. Combined hospital revenues of $4.8 billion in 1992 were up 11.6%, the report said. It said expenses increased 12.2% to $4.6 billion. Net profit margins were listed as declining to 4.6% in 1992 from 6.1% in 1991. The report said 24% of the hospitals lost money in 1992, with 36 losing $26 million. In 1991, 26 hospitals were listed as losing a combined $16 million.-Associated Press