CHICAGO -- Cook County, Ill., which operates one of the largest public health systems in the country, is relying on a provision in the new federal health care law to help cure chronic deficits.

The county’s Chicago-area health and hospital system accounts for 36% of the $3 billion county budget. The system’s fiscal 2013 deficit is $152 million, making up the bulk of Cook’s overall $268 million shortfall, county budget director Andrea Gibson said Tuesday in a talk in downtown Chicago.

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