Supporters of the indigent care levy hold a prayer vigil

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Opponents of a reduction in the indigent care levy converged on downtown Sunday evening.

On the doorstep of the Hamilton County Administration building, County Commissioner Todd Portune, University Hospital President and CEO Dr. Brian Gibler, and members of Cincinnati City Council were among those who met to pray, sing, and try one more time to sway the minds of Commissioners Greg Hartmann and Chris Monzel.

The indigent care levy pays University Hospital and Children's Hospital to provide health care to citizens of Hamilton County who have no health insurance, and cannot pay for health care themselves.  The levy is up for renewal this year, and the Hamilton County Commissioners must decide what amount will be put on the ballot Nov. 8.

Portune wants the amount to remain the same as it was when voters last approved the measure 5 years ago.  Commission President Greg Hartmann has proposed cutting the $46 million a year levy by $8 million.

Commissioner Portune proposes a plan to keep the levy funded at the same amount, saying, "This is not a political issue.  This is about who we are as people in Hamilton County. What happens a little more than 16 hours from now is going to send a very strong message about what kind of a community this is.  And I feel very good as I look around me tonight. ...And I want to know that in 16 hours that I can feel good about my colleagues on the county commission as well."

City Councilman Cecil Thomas told the crowd, "So I'm urging Monzel and Hartmann... please... Open your eyes and see exactly what you're doing here. You're hurting people.  Set your politics aside  It's important that you leave the levy as it is, and not cut it."

The reduction would save the owner of a $100,000 home $5 per year, and City Councilman Wendell Young poked fun at Commissioners Monzel and Hartmann by saying, "I'm not a rich man, but I've got 10 dollars.  I'll give each of the guys 5 dollars if that's all it takes [to change their minds]."

The Commissioners are expected to vote on the issue at their meeting, Monday August 8 at 11 a.m. at the Commission office at 138 E. Court St.

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