How the State of Illinois leverages $1,000,000 to save over $52,000,000 in health care costs

It has been almost 6 years since the first IPC blog article was written.   It has taken a lot of time and work to continue this blog conversation; I hope it has been worthwhile for all of you who have followed us since the beginning as well as for those who are new to our musings of all things poison.

For those unaware of Illinois politics, the IPC is once again affected by another  Illinois state budget crisis.   There is significant uncertainty as the fate of state support for the Illinois Poison Center (IPC).  The IPC however provides incredible value to the state of Illinois for its current $1,000,000 investment.

To explain this I have to use a term that I did not learn in medical school:  Leverage

Leverage:  The use of a small initial investment . . . to gain a very high return in relation to one’s investment . . . (


The IPC is a not-for-profit public-private partnership, dependent on support from the state, federal government, hospitals and foundations.   The base of support is laid by the state which uses $1 million of state Medicaid funds which are then matched by the federal government, so that there is $2 million in state support for the IPC.  From that financial foundation, the IPC then is able to leverage that investment and receive almost $700,000 in additional federal funding and $1.7 million in private funding from hospitals and foundations.  The state’s initial $1 million investment grows to $4.4 million of financial support for the IPC.

The IPC emergency call center in turn:

  • Answers over 80,000 calls per year from Illinois residents, families and health care professionals.
  • Manages 90% of cases from the general public at the site of exposure, saving families time and money, and saves an estimated 35,000 emergency department visits per year for an already strained 911 and EMS system.
  • Handles over 22,000 cases directly from hospital staff, mainly ER and ICU physicians and nurses seeking treatment recommendations for poisoned patients in their care.  Studies show that the poison centers can decrease the length of stay for an admission of average of one day.  It is estimated the IPC saves over 9,000 hospital days every year.

The IPC, through its emergency call center services, saves the state over $52 million in health care costs every year.  It is estimated that $15 million of the amount saved is in Medicaid dollars.

The state’s ability to leverage other sources of funding to stabilize and maintain a valuable state resource has been a mainstay of the IPC public private partnership.  Without state funding the partnership collapses and Illinois will be the first state in the nation without poison control services.

I am hopeful that when a state budget is created the legislators and governor will understand the great value provided by the IPC and the significant leverage that is applied to increase the state’s investment by 5,200 percent.  If only all of our investments were that good!

Till next time,



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