Cook County Board president hints at tax increase

FOX 32 NEWS - The Cook County Board president hinted at a future tax increase Wednesday, if lots of people in Illinois lose their health insurance. 

She spoke as Congress considers rewriting Obamacare. It could cost local hospitals hundreds of millions of dollars.

With west suburban Congressman Peter Roskam playing a key role, the House Ways and Means Committee began debating a new Republican health care proposal. Democrats complained the congressional budget office has not yet estimated the impact on people insured under Obamacare.

"I only wish the members themselves would slow down and allow for you to report that information before we take up legislation like we are today,” said Rep. Joe Crowley.

Details are still in flux, with President Trump signaling he would accept amendments to the proposed American Health Care Act, if needed to pass it.

Officials who oversee Cook County's government-run hospitals and clinics fear hundreds of thousands now insured under Obamacare will lose that coverage. They vowed to care for them, hinting at a tax increase to cover costs that could run into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

“Providing health care to the underinsured and the uninsured -- that's a wonderful legacy and we're not going to turn our backs on that legacy.  And we will continue to provide the care that we've always provided. We’ll just have to figure out a way to do it,” said Toni Preckwinkle.

Gov. Rauner said he's working with other Republican governors to convince the Trump administration to change its proposal. It currently calls for big cuts in federal Medicaid funding, a big problem for Illinois.

“Illinois has the lowest -- 50th out of 50 states in spending per Medicaid enrollee. And it also has the lowest federal match into the Medicaid program,” said Dr. Jay Shannon.

"Make no mistake, the president is very proud of the product we have produced. We are out in full sell mode,” said Sean Spicer.

The president will reportedly be selling the health care plan in Kentucky this weekend. It’s a state he won big, and where hundreds of thousands of his supporters have insurance through Obamacare.

The Republican health care plan got a thumb’s down Wednesday from the American Hospital Association and from doctors in the American Medical Association. They say the plan needs big changes.