Durbin: The Affordable Care Act Is At Stake In This Supreme Court Nomination

WASHINGTON – On the first day of the Supreme Court nomination hearing for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today called out Senate Republicans’ reversal on filling a Supreme Court vacancy in a presidential election year and argued it is a thinly-veiled effort to destroy the Affordable Care Act (ACA) after numerous failed attempts to undo the law in Congress.  Durbin emphasized the dangerous repercussions of filling this judicial vacancy without voters’ input as the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on the fate of the law just one week after the November 3, 2020, election. 

“We are at a critical moment in our nation’s history.  In the throes of a devastating pandemic, with over 214,000 Americans dead and over 7.7 million infected with this virus.  Each day we are reminded of how this invisible virus has changed our lives and changed America.  And there is no end in sight.  We face an economy in crisis, with millions of jobs lost and crushing challenges facing workers, businesses, and families all across America.  And we are in the middle of an election season.  Millions of Americans have already cast their vote.  This may be one of the most consequential elections in our nation’s history, because for the first time in the history of the United States, the incumbent president refuses to commit to a peaceful transition of power if he loses the election,” Durbin said.  “Now this is the context in which the Senate Majority Republicans are defying the traditions of the Senate and rushing forward with President Trump’s third nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.” 

During his opening remarks, Durbin shared the health care story of his constituent, Kenny Murray, who is able to get the care he needs through protections enshrined in the ACA.  Sue and Ken Murray’s second child, Kenny, was diagnosed in utero with multiple complex congenital heart defects.  Before his first birthday, Kenny had two open-heart surgeries at Advocate Children’s Hospital outside of Chicago, and he had a third at 14 months.  In just the first four months of his life while staying in the pediatric ICU, Kenny’s health care cost $1 million.

When Kenny was born in November 2013, his father’s work-based health insurance had a lifetime maximum cap of $1 million.  Before the ACA, insurance companies could set caps on how much they would pay toward a patient’s medical care.

The ACA’s ban on insurance companies imposing lifetime limits on coverage went into place in January 2014—six days before Kenny’s first surgery.  If it weren’t for the ACA, Sue and Ken would have hit that lifetime limit for Kenny in just four months and likely would have gone bankrupt.  Kenny was able to get the life-saving care he needed because of the ACA.

“Last year, I had the privilege of meeting the Murray family here in my Washington office… Sue and Ken Murray told me that their son Kenny was diagnosed in utero with multiple complex congenital heart defects… If it weren’t for the ACA, Sue and Ken would have hit the lifetime limit for Kenny in just four months… thanks to the Affordable Care Act, Kenny was able to get the care he needed,” Durbin said.  “When she gave permission for me to share Kenny’s story today, his mom, Sue said, ‘Kenny is a real person whose life depends on the Affordable Care Act.’” 

Durbin concluded, “Judge Barret, your nomination for a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land comes before us under a cloud.  You have been nominated by a President who shows contempt for the Constitution, but does not hesitate to tell his loyal followers that you are being sent to the bench to do his political chores—abolish the ACA, rule in his favor in an election contest, and even more…. the future of the Affordable Care Act and so many other issues hang in the balance—voting rights, civil rights, the right to privacy and choice, environmental protections, gun safety laws, marriage equality, Dreamers, worker protections.  These are the stakes.  If we wait just a few more days, we will know what the American people have to say.”

Video of Durbin’s opening remarks in Committee is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s opening remarks in Committee is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s opening remarks in Committee is available here for TV Stations.

Tens of millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions—including an estimated five million in Illinois—would lose protections if the ACA is eliminated. This includes the seven million Americans—and more than 300,000 Illinoisans—who have been diagnosed with COVID-19.