Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced Thursday she’s boosting the county’s contribution to health care for low-income residents, a day before the county board is scheduled to vote on her 2012 budget.
Preckwinkle stood with a bipartisan group of commissioners to talk about the $2 million increase to the county’s independent health and hospital system. The amount would be split between dental services and primary health care in the suburbs.
“In today’s fragile economy, there are a growing number of suburban families who are stuck in between being eligible for public health insurance programs and having medical insurance,” said Commissioner Timothy Schneider, R-Streamwood. “This effort is a positive step toward making Cook County health care dollars available to all residents of Cook County.”
The money would come from the county’s planned expansion of a tax charged on purchases of titled property including cars and boats. County residents who buy those big-ticket items from private sellers, including on Craigslist or from a neighbor, now would owe a county tax on that purchase under Preckwinkle’s budget proposal. The tax will be 1 percent.
The increase would bump the county’s contribution to the health system’s budget up to $254 million. For months, Preckwinkle and her budget team pressured the system’s leaders to reduce their reliance on taxpayer money to help balance the $915 million health budget.
“With the financial realities of the day…it takes courageous leadership and farsighted, strategic thinking to invest in the health of our residents,” said Dr. Ramanathan Raju, the health system’s new chief executive officer.