Durbin, Raoul defend Obamacare against suit

Senior U.S. senator, attorney general join activists urging protection of ACA

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul continues to argue against a federal suit that seeks to quash Obamacare. (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul continues to argue against a federal suit that seeks to quash Obamacare. (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

By Ted Cox

The state’s senior U.S. senator and attorney general are speaking out against a lawsuit intended to cripple the Affordable Care Act.

Attorney General Kwame Rauoul joined activists in criticizing a case that went to court in Texas Tuesday seeking to completely overturn the national health program commonly known as Obamacare.

Texas is using the Trump administration’s 2017 tax law, eliminating the individual mandate originally intended to help fund the Affordable Care Act and compel enrollment, as a legal excuse to quash the health plan entirely. Raoul joined more than 20 other state attorneys general in following the lead of California Attorney General Xavier Becerra in arguing against the Texas suit.

As the case opened with oral arguments Tuesday, Raoul issued a statement saying, “The Affordable Care Act ensures access to critical medical care for thousands of Illinois residents, including vulnerable populations such as seniors, children with pre-existing conditions, and people who rely on Medicaid. I am committed to fighting the federal government’s callous and unconstitutional efforts to deny millions of Americans access to the health care they deserve.”

Although the federal suit is Texas v. United States, it finds the Trump administration actually joining the Texas opponents to argue against Obamacare, which President Trump has repeatedly tried but failed to repeal in Congress.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin joined the chorus arguing against the federal suit, issuing a statement saying, “If President Trump and Republicans have their way in court, insurers will once again be able to discriminate against patients with pre-existing conditions and impose arbitrary caps on benefits, millions will be thrown off health insurance, and families nationwide will pay more for their health care. The president of the United States should be spending his days trying to find ways to improve health care for American families, not new ways to take away their health-insurance protection.”

“In simple terms, the Trump lawsuit will make America sick again,” said state Sen. Laura Fine of Glenview, who sponsored a bill strengthening the ACA and Medicaid earlier this year. “The impact of a bad decision will go far beyond the 20 million who get coverage under the ACA. The ACA has been a job creator for Illinois in addition to providing protections for all.”

William McNary, co-director of the grassroots group Citizen Action/IL, said the suit threatens health regulations that benefit everyone, not just those enrolled under an Obamacare plan. “Thousands of Illinoisans depend on coverage under the Affordable Care Act, but millions have benefited from the Act's protections for all health consumers,” he said. “If this latest attack on the ACA succeeds, 605,000 people in Illinois would lose their private or Medicaid coverage, 5.4 million people with pre-existing conditions would lose their protections and potentially lose their coverage or have to pay more, 187,360 seniors on Medicare who currently get discounts on their prescription drugs would face increased costs, and 5.89 million Illinoisans would lose free preventive care.”

According to the Office of the Attorney General, Raoul has previously filed briefs in the suit arguing that “every provision of the ACA remains valid” and should be left intact.