Durbin Discusses COVID-19 Response With Protect Our Care Illinois Chapter

SPRINGFIELDU.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today discussed the response to the COVID-19 pandemic with the Protect Our Care Illinois Chapter, a leading statewide group of Affordable Care Act (ACA), consumer, and health care advocates. Durbin spoke about the provisions in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that have helped increase health care access and coverage and protect frontline health care workers fighting the pandemic in Illinois.  Durbin also discussed what he will push for in the next federal relief bill, including measures to address the alarming and unconscionable racial disparities in COVID-19 mortality, allow people to remain on their employer’s health plans through COBRA, and expand the National Health Service Corps to address workforce needs. 

“The government has a role to play in assisting the most vulnerable during this COVID-19 pandemic. What the CARES Act and our earlier bipartisan coronavirus response bills sought to do is provide a safety net in people’s health care and finances so that we can weather this unprecedented crisis. As we learn more about the situation in Illinois, specifically the racial disparities we are seeing in infections and death, we must adapt our strategies to ensure we are protecting those most at-risk and in-need,” Durbin said. “We also have to make sure our Illinois health care workers and first responders have resources – like test kits and personal protective equipment – that help keep patients and staff safe.  I will continue to work to address any possible shortage of resources,” Durbin said.

The CARES Act included $100 billion for health providers to cover coronavirus-related expenses and lost revenues, $1.3 billion in supplemental funding for Community Health Centers, and $16 billion to replenish and re-distribute critical medical supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE) through the Strategic National Stockpile. It also includes a Medicare Accelerated Payments program to allow hospitals to request up-front, lump sum payments to address immediate cash flow needs, that will be “paid back” by crediting future Medicare claims to that amount. 

Participants on today’s call with Durbin included: Heartland Alliance, AARP Illinois, National MS Society, Kennedy Forum, Legal Council for Health Justice, Citizen Action Illinois, Planned Parenthood of Illinois, American Diabetes Association, ‎Illinois Primary Health Care Association, AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Healthy Illinois, Thresholds, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Shriver Center on Poverty Law, EverThrive Illinois, AgeOptions, Cook County Health & Hospitals System, Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans, American Academy of Pediatrics Illinois Chapter, Trilogy Behavioral Healthcare, Healthcare Rights Coalition, and Small Business Majority.