Durbin Discusses Central Illinois Impact of GOP Health Care Repeal Bill

DECATUR – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today met with Central Illinois health care leaders regarding the local impact of Congressional Republicans’ efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Last week, House Republicans passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which would repeal health care for millions of Americans, including one million in Illinois. The bill, which every Illinois Republican House Member voted for, would once again jeopardize coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, allow insurance companies to forgo coverage of essential health benefits, and increase costs for older Americans and rural communities, all while giving billions in tax cuts to the wealthy. The Senate is expected to begin work on its own health care legislation soon.


“The latest version of the Republican health care repeal passed in the House would significantly raise costs for Americans aged 50 to 64, gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions, cut off access to mental health and substance abuse treatments—in the midst of this opioid crisis—and throw 24 million Americans off of their health insurance, including more than one million Illinoisans,” said Durbin. “In addition, this bill would cost Illinois 60,000 jobs. The House-passed bill is opposed by every major medical and patient group in the country, from the American Hospital Association to the AARP. It is time for Republicans and Democrats to work together to improve our health care system. The bill passed by the House would only make things worse and I will fight like hell to make sure that disastrous bill never becomes law.”


The Republican bill allows states to seek waivers from three important ACA requirements: 1) that insurers cover essential health benefits such as mental health, substance abuse, maternity and newborn care; 2) that insurers cannot charge seniors more than three times as much as younger people; and 3) that insurers charge everyone the same premium, regardless of health history or pre-existing conditions.


Nationwide, the GOP bill cuts $840 billion in federal funding for Medicaid over the next ten years by ending the Medicaid expansion and turning the rest of the program into a block-grant or capita-cap system. In Illinois alone, the bill would cut approximately $40 billion in federal funding over the next ten years, jeopardizing health care for three million Illinoisans (20% of people in the state) who depend upon Medicaid for health care and effectively ending health coverage for the 650,000 Illinoisans who are newly enrolled in Medicaid thanks to the ACA expansion.


Under the GOP bill, older Americans will get hit twice:  higher premiums and less help paying them. The bill slashes tax credits for older Americans and allows insurers to charge them five times more than younger adults. Older Illinoisans age 55 to 64, would see their costs increase on average by $8,439 in 2020 and by $12,066 by 2026.


In March, Durbin released a report titled “TrumpCare: Less for More, An Analysis of the Impact of Repealing the Affordable Care Act on Illinois,” which details what Illinois stands to lose if President Trump and Congressional Republicans are successful in passing their legislation to repeal the ACA.  After requesting information from every hospital, public health department, and major medical society in the state, the report summarizes how the ACA has helped individuals, families, and providers in all 18 Illinois congressional districts, and provides information on the increased out-of-pocket costs and number of people in each congressional district that stand to lose health coverage under the Republican repeal bill. 


In Illinois’ 13th Congressional District, 53,700 people could lose health insurance—including 2,700 people with an individual market plan; 15,800 people with employer-sponsored insurance; 2,500 elderly Medicaid beneficiaries; 13,200 children on Medicaid; 6,200 nonelderly adults on Medicaid; 1,700 adults with disabilities on Medicaid; and 11,600 adults who have Medicaid expansion coverage. The district’s uninsured rate has gone from 9.9 percent to 4.6 percent since the ACA was implemented.


More than one million people in Illinois have gained coverage under the ACA, and all health plans now have important consumer protections, such as no discrimination based on pre-existing conditions, no annual/lifetime caps on benefits, as well as required coverage of maternity care, substance abuse, and mental health services. Nationally, more than 20 million people have gained health insurance because of the ACA. Thanks to the ACA, the uninsured rate in 2015 fell below 10 percent for the first time in our nation’s history.


This updated Republican repeal bill is opposed by virtually every sector of the health care community, including the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, the American Heart Association, the American Nurses Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Illinois Health and Hospital Association, and the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).