Durbin blasts GOP for latest Obamacare repeal bill, vote expected soon

CHICAGO (WLS) -- U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) called out Republicans for their latest attempt to win votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act Monday. The latest revisions to the Graham-Cassidy plan sweeten the pot for states where key senators remain undecided.

Senator Durbin said a vote could come as soon as Tuesday. Republicans have to vote by the end of the month in order to pass their new bill with a simple majority of 51 through budget reconciliation rules; after that they will need 60 votes to repeal Obamacare.

As of Monday, the Republican version seemed very much in jeopardy.

"This week the future of healthcare in Illinois and across the United States will be decided by one or two votes," Durbin said.

Because of that, so many people in the health care industry and those dependent on Medicaid are watching closely what's happening in Washington. At a hearing Monday morning, several demonstrators had to be handcuffed and removed by police.

Larry Mallon of west suburban Aurora is very concerned about cuts to Medicaid. Judy, his wife of 52 years, suffers from Alzheimer's disease and requires 24/7 care at a facility that is paid for by Medicaid.

"This is not a financial type of situation, this is life. It's the only thing that we have to fall back on to give her care during this critical time," Mallon said.

The Graham-Cassidy bill would eliminate the Obamacare expansion of Medicaid. The Republican plan would instead provide block grants to states and shift the cost to them. It would also give states more freedom to charge higher premiums for older and seriously ill people, and raise consumers' out-of-pocket expenses.

Over the weekend grants were increased for Alaska, Maine, Kentucky, Texas and Arizona, where senators are reluctant to support the plan. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) all said they will not vote for the Graham-Cassidy bill.

"There's absolute uncertainty and a bidding war going on now to carve out these states and give them more federal money to win that extra necessary vote," Durbin said.

For people like Mallon there's a different uncertainty that hits close to the heart.

"What would I do? We're here, and we're grateful for Medicaid. We have a place for her to go, as I could not take care of her at home any longer. What would I do? I would have no other place to go if she's not taken care of for me," he said.

Republicans hold 52 seats in the Senate, so they can only afford to lose two votes and still pass their version of the bill. Vice President Mike Pence could then break a tie, if it came to that.

An analysis just in from Standard & Poor's estimated the Graham-Cassidy bill would cost 580,000 jobs and $240 billion in lost economic activity by 2027. The Congressional Budget Office, which was not given time to conduct a full review of the bill before Republicans are expected to bring it up for a vote, said Monday it would decrease coverage for "millions."
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