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By KEVIN WILLIAMS
COOK COUNTY | Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle took a jab at Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner on Monday during a press conference, saying “he should have done more to oppose GOP efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.”
Preckwinkle said she strongly urged the governor in March to reach out to Republicans in the state’s congressional delegation and “tell them how important the Affordable Care Act is to Cook County,” but Rauner declined. Preckwinkle said she told Rauner during that phone call she was “deeply disappointed.”
The disappointment comes after three Illinois Republicans who had declined to say how they would vote beforehand ended up in the “yes” column — U.S. Reps. Peter Roskam of Wheaton, Randy Hultgren of Plano in Kendall County and Adam Kinzinger of Channahon in Will County. The measure narrowly passed, and it now heads to the Senate where some rewriting is expected.
Both Preckwinkle and Dr. Jay Shannon, CEO of the Cook County Health and Hospitals System, have warned of the potential impact of repealing Obamacare on both local taxpayers and patients whom the system treats.
They say the county stands to lose at least $200 million in payments it gets through the Obamacare expansion of Medicaid, and potentially hundreds of millions of dollars more if repeal results in a return to the days when a majority of people treated by the county health care system have no way to pay for their care. Those are costs local taxpayers could end up paying for, reversing how the county has reduced its local health care tax subsidy by $289 million over the past seven years thanks largely to Obamacare.
Illinois residents could find themselves without a way to pay for medications for chronic conditions, go to the emergency room for basic health care needs or end up only seeking care when they get really sick.
Shannon appeared Monday at the City Club of Chicago luncheon to outline his concerns, is seen as a way to try to build opposition to the Republican health care plan as it moves to the Senate.
“This issue is not dead…it’s not even half way to the finish line,” Shannon said. “The battle has just started. It requires individuals, community-based organizations, to be reaching out to their elected officials and saying, ‘We will not go backward. We cannot go backward.'”