Officials in Cook County, Ill., say that an Obamacare repeal and the related expansion of Medicaid could cost the county health system—and, ultimately, local taxpayers—$300 million a year or more. The county is where Chicago is located and its health system is one of the nation's largest safety net systems.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle cited the $300 million figure last week in an interview after a rally in which she and others said “chaos” will result if the Affordable Care Act is not carefully replaced. The same number came from aides to Dr. Jay Shannon, CEO of the Cook County Health & Hospital System.
Shannon, in his speech to a rally in front of Stroger Hospital, noted that the county has cut its subsidy to the health system by 75% in recent years, with payments dropping from $481 million in 2009 to a projected $115 million this year—“in large part due to the new revenue available as a result of implementation of the ACA.”
One county commissioner who has dealt with healthcare issues for decades, Evanston, Ill., Democrat Larry Suffredin, said the number cited by Preckwinkle and Shannon strikes him as “low,” and actually could be $450 million a year. Other hospitals also would be “clobbered,” he said.
Overall, the county says, a complete repeal of Obamacare could cause more than 483,000 of its residents to lose their health insurance. —Greg Hinz, Crain's Chicago Business