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Crain's Chicago Business Article: Cook County Board President Preckwinkle Issues Letter to Gov. Quinn to Resume Consideration of Tax-Exemption Proposals

Health & Medicine Policy Research Group (HMPRG)
March 1, 2012

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As talks stall, Preckwinkle prods Quinn over hospital tax exemptions

By Andrew L. Wang February 29, 2012

(Crain's) — Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle turned up the heat today on stalled negotiations over new rules exempting nonprofit hospitals from property taxes, asking Gov. Pat Quinn to resume evaluating applications for tax exemptions on March 1.

Mr. Quinn set that date last September as the deadline for a committee of hospital officials, government administrators and community groups to come up with a legislative solution for evaluating the hospitals' property tax liabilities. The governor imposed a moratorium on tax-exemption decisions while the committee met.

“As of today, no agreement exists,” Ms. Preckwinkle wrote to the governor. “Consequently, I am formally requesting that tomorrow you direct the Department of Revenue to resume consideration of all tax exemption applications from Illinois hospitals.”

In 2010, the state Supreme Court ruled that discounts given to the state's Medicaid program could not be considered charity care. The ruling upheld the denial of tax-exempt status for a hospital that is now part of Presence Health, the hospital network formed by the merger of Mokena-based Provena Health and Chicago-based Resurrection Health Care Corp.

The latest firestorm was ignited in August, when the Illinois Revenue Department stripped charitable status from Northwestern Memorial's Prentice Women's Hospital in downtown Chicago, Edward Hospital in Naperville and Decatur Memorial Hospital downstate, in part because they each spent less than 2 percent of net patient revenue on free care.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Quinn said the governor's office was aware of the letter and added only that the governor will announce next steps on Thursday. Read the full post...