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BernCo Officials to Attend National Justice and Public Health Summit

Andy Lenderman

Top county leaders are travelling to Chicago Monday to learn about how the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act can help large urban counties improve public health, reduce jail populations and save money.

Commission Chair Maggie Hart Stebbins, Metropolitan Detention Center Chief Phil Greer and University Hospital’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Irene Agostini, are attending the conference this Monday and Tuesday, organized by the Center for Health and Justice at Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities.

The focus of the invitation-only conference is how large urban counties can leverage Medicaid to help uninsured people gain coverage, improve their health, avoid jail and ultimately save counties millions of dollars.

“Bernalillo County has made tremendous progress in managing the Metropolitan Detention Center, but it’s critical that we continue to learn and improve by collaborating with other county leaders and healthcare experts from other large counties,” Commission Chair Maggie Hart Stebbins says.

“The cost of running the jail continues to increase every year. Many inmates struggle with substance abuse and mental illness. Addressing the root cause of these health problems can both improve public health and reduce county budget costs in the long run.”

Conference sponsors, including the Open Society Foundation, the Public Welfare Foundation and the National Association of Counties, are paying the travel costs for invited officials.

The conference is being organized in conjunction with Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart and Dr. Jay Shannon, CEO of the Cook County Health and Hospitals System.

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