Durbin: Confirmation Of Judge Barrett To The Supreme Court Is The Latest Republican Plan To Dismantle The Affordable Care Act

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today slammed Senate Republicans’ reversal on filling a Supreme Court vacancy in a presidential election year and argued it is a thinly-veiled effort to destroy the Affordable Care Act (ACA) after numerous failed attempts to demolish the law in Congress.  With President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) actively working to dismantle the ACA, Durbin emphasized the dangerous repercussions of filling this judicial vacancy without voters’ input as the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on the fate of the law just one week after the November 3, 2020, election.  If President Trump and Republicans are successful in eliminating the law, millions of Americans will lose their access to affordable, quality health insurance and coverage for their pre-existing conditions during a global pandemic.

“Here’s what Senator McConnell said four years ago.  ‘The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice.  Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President.’  The McConnell Rule was thrown out just a few days ago.  Why?  Because it was to Senator McConnell’s political advantage to fill this vacancy, and to the President’s, and not to wait for the outcome of the November 3 election,” Durbin said.  “So what’s the issue?  What would cause Senator McConnell to change so quickly and to ask all of his loyal Republican Senators to go through the embarrassment of recanting the position they took publicly four years ago?  Well it turns out we know what the big deal is.  It’s the Affordable Care Act.”

Durbin continued, “They have tried every imaginable way to eliminate it [ACA], to change it, to water it down, to discourage it… if we vote under Senator McConnell’s timetable, on or before the election on November 3, then the new Supreme Court Justice, sworn in and in her black robe, ascends to the bench in the Supreme Court on November 10, listens to the oral argument on the Affordable Care Act, and then a few weeks or months later puts an end to it.”

In his speech on the Senate floor, Durbin also shared the story of an Illinois constituent to highlight how the ACA has been a lifeline to millions of Americans.  Thomas from Cook County, Illinois, was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in his chest at the age of 30.  He underwent 20 rounds of chemo and a major surgery to successfully remove the tumor. 

However, his treatment cost nearly $2 million.  Before the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies imposed arbitrary annual and lifetime limits on how much they would spend on a patient’s medical bills.  That’s why for years, medical debt was a leading cause of bankruptcy.  Thankfully, the ACA put an end to those limits. 

“Without those protections, Tom wrote to me, he ‘would have most likely capped his coverage and be bankrupt.  Thousands of other Americans would be there with him without the Affordable Care Act,” Durbin said.  “Although Tom wants to continue to work and contribute to society, he said he’s scared to death, he’s ‘terrified’ in his words, that protections for pre-existing conditions could be ended… they [Republicans] are so determined to get rid of ObamaCare at any cost they could care less about Tom and people just like him with these lifetime limits.”

Video of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here for TV Stations.