Durbin Calls On Congress To Protect And Strengthen The ACA, Not Undermine It

As Republican & Trump Administration lawsuit threatens health care for millions, Durbin highlights the disastrous impact that would have on Illinois

CHICAGO – With health care once again under attack, U.S Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today stood with advocates and individuals who have been helped by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to address the Trump Administration’s latest lawsuit seeking to dismantle the health law and call on Congress to strengthen the ACA, not undermine it.  Next week, oral arguments will be heard in the case of Texas v. United States—a lawsuit over the constitutionality of the entire ACA. If the Trump Administration and 20 Republican state Attorneys General (AGs) succeed, the ACA could be struck down, leaving tens of millions of Americans without health care or protections for pre-existing conditions. 

“Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, 20 million Americans gained health insurance, including more than one million people in Illinois,” said Durbin. “All of its important and life-saving protections will be gone if President Trump gets his way starting next week in court. I stand ready to work with my colleagues in Congress to protect and strengthen the Affordable Care Act.” 

After President Trump’s failed attempt to repeal the ACA two years ago, he turned to the courts to sabotage the health law. Last February, 20 Republican AGs filed a lawsuit over the constitutionality of the ACA—arguing that because the individual mandate penalty was zeroed out in the 2017 Republican tax law, the rest of the ACA also should be struck down.

In December, a District Court judge in Texas sided with the Republican plaintiffs, and the case will go to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans next week.  If the Trump Administration and Republican AGs succeed, the entirety of the ACA could be struck down, meaning:

  • Protections for people with pre-existing conditions would be eliminated
  • Millions would be kicked off Medicaid
  • Individual insurance markets and premium assistance would be eliminated
  • Seniors on Medicare would face increased prescription drug costs
  • Women could be charged more than men for health care
  • Young people would no longer have access to their parents’ insurance plan up to age 26
  • Annual and lifetime caps on benefits could return
  • There would no longer be guaranteed coverage for preventative screening and contraceptive services without deductibles or copayments
  • There would no longer be guaranteed coverage for mental health and addiction treatment services

Since the ACA was signed into law in 2010, the uninsured rate in Illinois has fallen by 49 percent.  More than one million previously uninsured Illinoisans now have health insurance thanks to Medicaid expansion and tax credits to purchase Exchange plans, and 90,000 young adults have health insurance by staying on their parents’ plans until age 26.  Further, the approximately 5 million Illinois residents with a pre-existing conditions now have protections against discrimination from insurance companies, and Illinois seniors have saved an average of more than $1,000 on their prescription drugs due to the ACA’s closing of the Medicare “donut hole” coverage gap.  

Last month the House of Representatives passed bi-partisan legislation, Protecting Americans with Pre-Existing Conditions Act, to prevent President Trump from allowing health insurance companies to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions, yet Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has refused to call up this legislation for a vote.  The House has also advanced legislation to crack down on junk health plans and restore funding for insurance sign-ups and outreach.