Durbin Promotes November 1 Health Insurance Open Enrollment, Releases Report On Trump's Health Care Sabotage Efforts

BELLEVILLE – With health insurance open enrollment for 2018 less than a week away, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today urged those in need of individual market health plans for next year to sign up for insurance between November 1 and December 15. Last week, Durbin released a report – “1,000 Cuts: A Report on the Trump Administration’s Health Care Sabotage” – which outlines the Trump administration’s deliberate efforts to undermine the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including cutting the open enrollment period in half, ending advertising that encourages and informs people about how to sign up for insurance, and slashing funding for organizations that help enroll people in health plans. Despite these actions, individual market health plans, as well as the federal subsidies that help people afford coverage, are still available and work continues on bipartisan legislation to strengthen our current health care system and help Illinois families.

“Despite the uncertainty stemming from President Trump and Congressional Republicans attempts to repeal the ACA, Illinois health care consumers should know that insurance options will be there for them and they can start signing up as soon as next week,” Durbin said. “Instead of making it harder for people to get covered, we should be focused on efforts to enroll people in coverage and strengthen our health care system for all. The bipartisan Senate agreement announced last week proves that we can work together without repeal, without gutting Medicaid, and without hurting people with pre-existing conditions.” 

The 2018 open enrollment period begins November 1, 2017, and ends December 15, 2017, for insurance coverage beginning January 1, 2018. Eight out of ten people qualify for financial help that will keep their monthly premiums between $50 and $100. Further, free, local, and in-person enrollment help is still available to help people better understand their options and select the right insurance plans for their needs. Consumers can search for plans and enroll at Healthcare.gov. Additional resources can be found on the final page of the Durbin report linked above.

From his first day in office, Trump has taken actions to undermine the ACA and create uncertainty in our health care system. This effort has occurred in tandem with repeated efforts by congressional Republicans to repeal the ACA, the threat of which has created instability in the individual market where approximately 12 million Americans—including 350,000 Illinoisans—purchase their insurance.

The most recent sabotage actions include Trump’s executive order which promotes “bare-bones” plans, that lack coverage of important essential health benefits – such as mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment, and maternity/newborn care – and the termination of cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments, which help working class families afford health insurance in the individual market. Without the CSR payments, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that one million people will lose insurance, insurers will flee the individual market, and premiums will increase 20 percent next year alone. 

Last week, U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced their compromise ACA stabilization bill, which would provide certainty to consumers and insurers in the marketplace and begin to undo some of Trump’s sabotage. Namely, the proposal would provide funding to help lower out-of-pocket costs for working families, restore a portion of the outreach and navigator funding that has been cut by the Trump Administration, and provide states with additional flexibility without jeopardizing protections for people with pre-existing conditions. The CBO’s official analysis found that the bipartisan Alexander-Murray bill would stabilize individual market premiums in the future.  

More than 20 million uninsured Americans have gained health coverage under the ACA – including one million in Illinois – bringing our nation’s uninsured rate below 10 percent for the first time in history. Thanks to the ACA, insurers can no longer deny coverage due to a pre-existing condition, discriminate based on gender or health status, or impose annual or lifetime caps on benefits. Insurers must now cover important health care: maternity and newborn care, mental health and substance abuse treatment, and prescription drugs and hospitalizations. Thanks to the ACA, young people are able to stay on their parents’ health plans until age 26 and Medicare’s solvency has been extended by over a decade. The ACA also expanded Medicaid to cover millions of newly eligible Americans—650,000 in Illinois—and provided enhanced federal funds to help pay for the expansion population.