President's Message - Collaboration Gone Wrong

by Linda Fred, ICHP President
August 17, 2015

One of the first things I was asked to do after my election as President was to choose a “theme” for my presidency. I selected collaboration, and I’ve tried, in these articles for KeePosted, to offer examples and suggestions for how collaboration can enrich our profession as a whole and our practices at the individual level. I thought this month I would take a stab at an example of what it looks like when there isn’t good collaboration.

It will come as no surprise to anyone who has lived in Illinois for more than about a day that possibly the richest example of lack of collaboration is our own state government. This year’s budget impasse is partisan and ugly.

The list of healthcare services that could be affected is lengthy. A few of the more concerning cuts on the table are:
  • Already dramatically underserved mental health services including those for substance abuse treatments
  • Breast and cervical cancer screening services
  • Services facilitating independent living for our elderly and persons with disabilities
  • General Medicaid funding (already near the bottom of all 50 states in Medicaid funding per person) – and especially problematic are cuts to preventive services which will likely drive more patients back to our already stressed emergency departments.
I did a quick search on Crain’s Chicago Business ( this morning, and it brought up the following headlines from the last couple of weeks:
  • “Temporary Budget, Likely Doomed, Heads to Rauner’s Desk”
  • “Why Springfield’s Budget Crisis is More Talk Than Real”
  • “S&P’s Grade on Illinois Budget Talks: F. No, Make That an F Minus”
  • “Madigan Ups Rauner Challenge with New, Wider Budget Bill”
  • “Madigan to Offer One-Month ‘Essential' Budget”
  • “Rauner Spikes Dems’ Budget and Then Answers Back”
If these headlines are any indication – it feels like a lot of political posturing and not much collaborating. It’s sad because when you look at just that short list of services above (and it’s not comprehensive by any means) and extrapolate that list to the millions of residents of this state who will feel the impact of this lack of “across the aisle” cooperation either directly or indirectly – it starts to get a little bit too real.

Collaboration is about finding common goals. It is disheartening that our state government seems to have lost track of the common goal that is the welfare of the residents of Illinois. Winning has become more important than meeting the needs of the residents.

On a lighter note though, they did all come together yesterday to make sweet corn the State’s Vegetable – although they didn’t get around to making Pumpkin Pie the State Pie yet. Thank goodness this session hasn’t been a complete waste!

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