Durbin Discusses Latest Disastrous Republican Plan To Repeal Affordable Care Act

CHICAGO – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today discussed the latest Republican plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the impact it would have on Illinois patients and health care providers. Senate Republicans are rushing to vote on the Cassidy-Graham repeal bill this week – despite the fact that final bill text is still not available, last-minute changes are still being made in secret, and the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has not had enough time to provide an analysis of the legislation’s impact on premiums and insurance coverage. Instead of repealing health care, Durbin is calling on Congress to work together on a bipartisan basis to improve our health care system and to reauthorize funding for our nation’s community health centers and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) before both programs’ funding expires on October 1.

“This week, congressional Republicans will once again attempt to repeal a law that has brought health insurance to more than one million Illinoisans, provided protections for people with pre-existing conditions, reduced prescription drug costs for seniors, and ended insurance discrimination based on medical history, gender, and age,” Durbin said. “Instead of voting on another partisan repeal bill, Congress should be focused on other pressing health issues that need to get done this week.  Let’s reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Let’s also reauthorize funding for our nation’s community health centers. And finally, let’s turn toward a real, bipartisan effort to strengthen and improve our health system for all Americans.”

The latest Senate Republican proposal to repeal the ACA would end the Medicaid expansion, which has benefitted 650,000 Illinoisans, and dramatically restructure and slash the traditional Medicaid program—cutting services for low-income children, pregnant women, the disabled, the elderly, and those in rural communities. In addition, this measure would terminate the ACA’s subsidies, which help people buy health insurance, and completely undermine protections for people with pre-existing conditions, allowing insurers to once again charge people with pre-existing conditions more for their insurance.  The Cassidy-Graham bill would impose an age tax on older Americans by allowing those over age 50 to be charged five times more than younger patients.  It would allow health plans to refuse coverage of important health services – from mental health care to hospitalizations and prescription drugs, to substance abuse treatment and maternity care.

Outside analyses have estimated this repeal bill would cause tens of millions of people to lose health insurance coverage, including one million Illinoisans, while cutting hundreds of billions in health care funding to states. The bill is opposed by virtually every major medical, health, provider, insurer, and patient/disease organization nationwide—including the AARP, the Illinois Health and Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, BlueCross Blueshield, America’s Health Insurance Plans, the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association, and the American Hospital Association, among many others.

While Senate Republicans are pushing for a vote on the Cassidy-Graham bill this week, important safety-net programs are at risk of expiring on October 1.  Federal funding for both community health centers and CHIP, which provides health care for‎ 350,000 children in Illinois through the All Kids program, will run out at the end of this week. Illinois could see a 70 percent funding cut for 52 health centers that provide care to 1.3 million people statewide. Last week, Durbin and a bipartisan group of Senators wrote to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions calling for immediate action to extend critical funding for community health centers. Last year, health centers were the medical home for one in twelve Americans, one in ten children, one in six Americans living in rural areas, and more than 330,000 of our nation’s veterans.