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Gov. Pritzker signs legislation to strengthen critical access hospitals

ELDORADO, IL — During a visit to Ferrell Hospital in Saline County, Governor JB Pritzker signed SB 1469 to strengthen critical access hospitals in rural communities.

The following are the governor's remarks as prepared for delivery:

Today, we are taking a step to cement my commitment to ensure that families across Illinois have access to quality, affordable health care by strengthening critical access hospitals.

Health care is a right, not a privilege. Your income or your zip code should never dictate your access to that right.

Critical access hospitals are on the frontlines of our work to provide quality health care in all of our communities.

They contend with unique challenges and barriers to provide care in zip codes where there are no other options.

Every day, hospitals like Ferrell give patients the care they deserve close to home.

And they are employers. Critical Access Hospitals are often some of the largest employers in their local areas, providing jobs to hundreds of hardworking people who are caring for their neighbors and providing an absolutely essential service.

Ferrell Hospital, like its peers around the state, provides health care and an economic anchor for the community, in the community, and I assure you this administration will always support that value.

In a few moments, I will sign legislation to help these critical institutions.

SB 1469 will bring significant resources back to our critical access hospitals, where they were always intended to be.

When all is said and done, the bill I’m about to sign will mean $55 million in funding for critical access hospitals throughout the state.

That’s going to have a profound impact on centers of health care and community in regions across our state.

It will allow them to hire more doctors and nurses, expand treatments and services, and provide even more Illinoisans the care they deserve.

I’m grateful to the Illinois Hospital Association, advocates, and members of the General Assembly for passing this important legislation and I’m proud to sign it into law.

I also want to take a moment to underscore my commitment to a Downstate Revitalization Plan. I’ve visited southern Illinois several times in my first 52 days in office – most recently last week, when I toured areas that were facing serious flooding threats.

I want you to know that southern Illinois matters to my administration, and I want families who live here and raise their kids here to be able to stay here and have the opportunity to succeed here.

To do that, we have to make our tax system more fair and yesterday, I announced that my administration has begun negotiations to change our system from one that is regressive and taxes everyone at the same rate to one that will make people like me pay more and middle class families pay less. I call that the fair income tax. Our proposal will put Illinois on a course toward firm fiscal footing and make our system more fair everyone.

Under this plan, everyone who earns up to $250,000 will pay the same or less than what they’re paying today. That’s 97% of Illinoisans.

We’ll provide property tax relief for homeowners, child tax credits for families, and stability for our small businesses.

Most importantly, this plan addresses the most pressing challenge facing our state, a multi-billion budget deficit and a $15 billion debt from unpaid bills.

In our current fiscal situation, there are only very few alternatives. If we don’t pass a fair tax, we can make a drastic 15% cut to education, public safety, economic development and other critical services. Or we can raise income taxes by 20% on the middle class and everyone in Illinois, which would hurt communities like those of you here in Eldorado. That’s why I choose to implement a fair tax, asking the wealthiest 3% of Illinoisans to pay more, allowing us to eliminate the budget deficit, pay down the bill backlog, balance future budgets and reduce the pension liability.

I choose fairness – because it’s the best way to keep communities like yours strong.