Suburbs like Cicero work to keep taxes low — but can’t tell other taxing bodies what to doLetters to the Editoron August 25, 2021 at 5:56 pm

On August 17, a Sun-Times story detailed Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas’ report on how tax increases countywide are impacting Hispanic and African American communities.

Pappas’ report bundled the tax levies from all taxing bodies (municipality, parks, libraries, fire districts, schools districts, etc.) to show how all these taxes combined add up for homeowners suburb by suburb.

This might have left the impression that local municipalities themselves, such as the Town of Cicero, are wholly to blame for the increases, which is not the case. Cicero, for one, has worked hard to keep taxes low.

I am sure that is not what Treasurer Pappas intended to do.

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The Town of Cicero has kept taxes down by attracting new businesses, converting idle lands into bustling industries and commercial areas, and better managing its existing operations. Despite burdens imposed by the COVID pandemic, Cicero has maintained all services without cutbacks or imposing higher new taxation.

By bundling all taxing districts into a single presence, Treasurer Pappas also inadvertently contradicted a report she released August 23, 2021 that clearly shows that during the past two decades, the Town of Cicero, as a municipality, had one of the lowest overall tax increases in comparison to nearly every other suburban municipality in Cook County.

While municipalities have a voice in what other taxing bodies do, they are constitutionally independent. In fact, municipalities that have held the line on taxation, like the Town of Cicero, should be spotlighted for helping to reduce the burden on homeowners and residents. Each taxing body should be assessed individually.

Ray Hanania, spokesman, Town of Cicero

How to reduce vaccine costs

High insurance co-pays can keep seniors, especially minority seniors, from getting any number of important vaccines. It is a problem that should be solved — and it can be, if Congress would act.

A 2016 study, reported in the American Journal of Pharmacy Benefits, found that of 172,977 initial requests for a vaccine, 67,369 were abandoned — the patient did not get the vaccine — and the main explanation for this 30% abandonment rate was cost.

Contrast this to the COVID-19 vaccine, which is free to all. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, more than 92% of Illinoisans 65 and older have had at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Clearly, when cost is not an issue, seniors get vaccinated.

The problem is rooted in the way Medicare is set up. Those who are covered by Medicare Part D often end up sharing costs as part of various Medicare Part D plans. These costs can be as little as $14 and as much as $103 per vaccine, depending on the situation. Almost 24 million Americans are enrolled in these stand-alone prescription drug plans and consequently subject to the cost sharing.

The solution? In Washington, legislation is pending, the Protecting Seniors Through Immunization Act, that would eliminate these out-of-pocket expenses by aligning Part D coverage of vaccines with Medicare Part B vaccine coverage.

We need Congress to pass this important legislation to ensure that our seniors are getting the medical care they need and deserve. We need it now.

State Rep. La Shawn K. Ford, D-Chicago

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