Durbin Highlights Importance Of Affordable Care Act During National Health Center Week

CHICAGO – During National Health Center Week, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today visited Mile Square Health Center and discussed the important role that community health centers and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) play in our communities. Community health centers improve access to affordable, high-quality health care in underserved urban and rural communities by integrating primary health care with pharmacy, mental health and substance abuse treatment, and oral health care services.

“Not only did the ACA expand coverage to more than one million Illinoisans—cutting our uninsured rate in half, it also provided more than $500 million for health centers in Illinois to expand vital services. For those who want to repeal the Affordable Care Act, that would also mean hindering all of the important work done by community health centers like Mile Square,” said Durbin. “That is why I am relieved that last month – on a bipartisan basis – the Senate rejected a series of health care repeal bills that would have devastated health care in Illinois and across the county, and crippled the Medicaid program.  Now, on a bipartisan basis, the Senate must come together and improve our health care system so that our great community health centers, like Mile Square, can do what they do best—provide the right care at the right time to those in need.” 

In Illinois, 60 percent of health center patients are covered by Medicaid.  The various Republican health care repeal bills would have jeopardized this care by ending the Medicaid expansion for 650,000 Illinoisans and converting Medicaid into a capped amount—a $40 billion cut over a decade to Illinois.  It also would have thrown between 16 and 32 million people off their health coverage, including one million Illinoisans; raised premiums 20 to 100 percent; crippled protections for people with pre-existing conditions, including undermining Essential Health Benefits; defunded Planned Parenthood; cut $600 to $900 billion from  Medicaid; and provided hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks to large corporations, millionaires, and billionaires.

Since his first day in office, President Trump has been sabotaging American’s health care system. He issued an Executive Order instructing federal agencies not to enforce the ACA, cut the 2018 open enrollment period in half, and cancelled advertisements and outreach that helped people sign up for insurance – all of which will make it more difficult for people to sign up for health insurance next year on the individual market. And he continues to threaten to stop making cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments, which help make premiums more affordable for more than 156,000 Illinoisans. Insurance companies participating in Illinois’ individual marketplace have cited this uncertainty for proposed 2018 premium increases, and Senators Durbin and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) wrote to the Illinois Department of Insurance last week urging the agency to take commonsense steps to protect Illinois consumers from the Trump Administration’s sabotage.  Yesterday, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office announced that if President Trump stops making CSR payments, premiums will spike by 20 percent, insurance companies will leave the marketplace, one million more Americans will be uninsured in 2018, and the deficit will increase by $194 billion over a decade. 

Illinois community health centers provide primary health care services to approximately 1.3 million Illinois residents at 51 health centers with 360 treatment sites in medically underserved areas throughout the state. Illinois community health centers employ over 7,600 individuals, equaling a payroll of more than $508 million. They also inject approximately $800 million in operating expenditures into their communities, resulting in an overall economic impact of $1.48 billion and overall employment of 11,700. A recent study found that Illinois community health centers save 27 percent in total spending per Medicaid patient compared to non-health center providers.

Since 1967, Mile Square Health Center has been providing community-based care for vulnerable Chicagoans, from cancer screenings to flu shots and specialty care for HIV/AIDS. As a University of Illinois federally qualified health center, Mile Square provides comprehensive primary care to over 24,000 people throughout Chicago every year at six Federally Qualified Health Centers and five school clinics.