Health Care Reform

Durbin: Senate-Passed Health Care Bill Provides Quality, Affordable Coverage for Additional 1.1 Million Illinoisans

CHICAGO, IL–(ENEWSPF)–January 4, 2010.   Nearly 1.1 million uninsured Illinoisans and 30 million people across the nation are on track to gain access to quality, affordable healthcare coverage as a result of the historic reform bill passed by the U.S. Senate last month, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) said today. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was approved by the Senate in a vote of 60-39 on December 24th.

The Senate bill builds on what works in our current system and takes the necessary steps to correct what is broken, Durbin said. First and foremost, it stays true to the President’s call that if you like what you have, you can keep it. The bill also makes health insurance more affordable to all Americans – including people who are self-employed or work for a small business, people who have a pre-existing condition, and people who change jobs or lose their jobs. Insurance companies will no longer be able to place limits on coverage or ration care when people need it the most. The bill helps to lower health care costs by emphasizing prevention and healthy lifestyles, and by cracking down on waste, fraud, and unnecessary administrative expenses in health care. And it strengthens Medicare for the future while expanding access to preventive care now. According to the independent Congressional Budget Office, Senate-passed bill reduces the federal budget deficit by $130 billion over the next 10 years and by as much as $1.3 trillion over the following decade, by reining in out of control health care costs.

“Almost 80 percent of Illinois’ 1.8 million uninsured residents are members of working families. The simple truth is that many hard working families haven’t been able to purchase health insurance and make ends meet, even before the recession began. Today, 2.5 million Illinoisans – more than 1 out of 5 Illinoisans under the age of 65 – is in a family that must spend more than 10 percent of its income on health care costs, and another 660,000 spend more than 25 percent of their income on health care. Those costs are not sustainable,” said Durbin.

“Middle class families in Illinois and across the country can look forward to stable and secure coverage that cannot be taken away, stable costs that won’t eat away at family paychecks, and better quality care.”

Many benefits of the Senate bill begin immediately. They include:

• Tax credits for small businesses in tax year 2010.

• A high-risk pool for people denied coverage due to preexisting conditions.

• A ban on preexisting condition exclusions for children under age 18 in new plans.

• The option to cover dependents up to age 26 on their parents’ policy in new plans.

• A ban on insurance companies dropping your coverage once you get sick (rescissions) in new plans.

• Access to emergency care out of network at the same cost as in network coverage in new plans.

• Allowing members in new plans to pick any participating primary care provider in their plan and allowing women to see an ob-gyn without prior authorization.

• A ban on lifetime benefits and tight restrictions on annual limits in new plans.

• Coverage of preventive services and immunizations without co-pays in new plans.

• Discounts on brand-name prescription drugs for seniors in the doughnut hole in Medicare Part D. “After at least 75 years of struggle to create a comprehensive national system of health insurance, skyrocketing costs and burdensome insurance procedures will no longer stand in the way of patients’ access to the quality care that every American deserves,” said Durbin. “I’m proud that we, as legislators, finally tackled an issue that every family and every business knows is central to our progress and success as a nation.” “The bill tells all Americans that it doesn’t matter where you live, what you do, how old you are, or how much money you make. The United States will give every American the opportunity to find affordable health insurance and quality health care. It is long overdue and we are one critical step closer.”