Durbin: Repeal of Healthcare Reform Would Have Devastating Impact on Illinois

[SPRINGFIELD, IL] –Millions of Illinoisans are already reaping the benefits of the healthcare reform bill that put American consumers back in charge of their health coverage and medical care and would feel the effects should it be repealed, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) said today. Because of the law, young adults can now stay on their parents’ health plans, small business owners are receiving tax credits to help make health insurance more affordable, and people who may have reached a lifetime limit on their insurance policy now have the peace of mind that their medical costs will be covered. Seniors across Illinois are now also seeing the bill’s benefits. Instead of being crushed by the burden of high prescription drug costs for another year, Medicare beneficiaries who fall into the “donut hole” will receive a 50 percent discount on covered brand name prescription drugs, as a result of a provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act which went into effect on January 1, 2011.


“For too long, the nation’s healthcare crisis has grown while everyday Americans have borne the brunt of it. This is especially true of our seniors, particularly those who fell into the Medicare “donut hole” and were forced to pay out-of-pocket for their medications. But as of January 1, Medicare beneficiaries trapped in the “donut hole” began receiving a 50 percent discount on all brand name drugs. This discount will gradually increase until 2020 when the donut hole is filled completely. No one should have to choose between their health and paying for food, bills, and other basic necessities, especially our seniors,” said Durbin.


In Sangamon County, 2,378 Medicare beneficiaries would have to pay an additional $21 million for their prescription drugs over the next 10 years without this provision of the healthcare reform law. Across the country, seniors who have high prescription drug spending will save as much as $12,300 over the next 10 years and seniors with low drug costs will save an average of $2,400 over 10 years. Nearly 110,000 Medicare beneficiaries in Illinois have already received a one-time, tax-free $250 rebate to help pay for prescription drugs in the “donut hole” coverage gap.


Medicare beneficiaries, including 1.8 million seniors in Illinois, will also receive a free, annual wellness visit and will see their co-pays and deductibles eliminated for preventive services —like mammograms and colonoscopies.


“Just as we are seeing the tangible benefits of the healthcare reform law take effect, the new House Republican majority has made repeal of the health reform law a priority. But repealing the law would take us back to the days when big insurance companies had the power to decide what care residents of Illinois could receive—allowing them to once again deny coverage to children with pre-existing conditions, cancel coverage when people get sick, and place limits on the amount of care people receive,” said Durbin.


In addition to adding $230 billion dollars to the national deficit over the next decade, repeal of the Affordable Care Act would cause people in Illinois to lose critical benefits and protections they are already receiving. Due to the “medical loss ratio” provision of the healthcare law, which also went into effect on January 1, insurers are now required to spend 80 to 85 percent of consumers’ premium dollars on direct patient care and health care quality improvement. Before the provision went into effect, more than 20 percent of consumers who purchased plans in the individual market were in plans spending more than 30 cents of every premium dollar on administrative costs. In 2011, this new requirement will protect over 74 million Americans, including 7.5 million in Illinois.


Also as a result of the health reform law, young adults up to age 26 can now stay on their parents’ health plans. If the law were repealed, 47,200 young adults under age 26 in Illinois could lose their insurance coverage.


If the law were repealed, insurance companies would once again be allowed to retroactively cut off coverage after an accident or illness by pointing to a simple mistake on an application. This would leave 612,000 people in Illinois at risk of losing their insurance at the moment they need it most.


Prior to health reform, millions of Americans who suffer from costly medical conditions were in danger of seeing their health insurance coverage vanish when the costs of their treatment hit lifetime limits set by their insurers. The health reform law prohibits the use of lifetime limits, protecting the 7.5 million Illinoisans who could find themselves vulnerable again if the healthcare law were to be repealed.


“The health reform law passed last year was a response to widespread concern about the rising costs of healthcare. Before the law passed, insurance companies could leave patients without coverage when they most needed it most, causing them to put off getting care, compromising their health and driving up the cost of care later. The health reform law is already making a difference in the lives of millions in our state and across the nation, and I will fight hard to ensure these benefits are not taken away,” Durbin said.