Did Biden’s incoming vaccinations coordinator oversee the closure of half of Chicago’s public mental health clinics?

Wednesday, January 20, 2021
By Gus Fisher

Bechara Choucair, named vaccinations coordinator for the Biden administration, oversaw a restructuring of Chicago mental-health services as the city's health commissioner from 2009 to 2014. According to a June 2014 department report, the city closed half its health clinics in 2011 and 2012 while serving 15% fewer clients.

Choucair wrote in August 2014 that the changes allowed the city to focus on its uninsured clients and make targeted investments in vulnerable populations. He also said that despite the closures, the mental health system kept capacity the same.

According to the city's 2011 budget, under Mayor Richard M. Daley, Chicago paid 44 city mental health care providers $3.67 million in total salaries. The next year, under Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago paid 14 providers a total of $1.38 million.

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