How the Senate healthcare bill could impact Illinois

CHICAGO (WLS) -- As lawmakers decide whether to support the Senate healthcare bill, agencies and patients who may be impacted by cuts and changes to the Affordable Care Act brace for the worst.

While many admit the Affordable Care Act is not perfect, they say it is better than what the Senate Republicans are proposing. Their bill slashes Medicaid, which could mean millions of Americans could lose their health insurance.

Jessica Gimeno has a rare form of muscular dystrophy. Before Medicaid was expanded under the Affordable Care Act, Gimeno was spending over $900 a month on medical bills forcing her family into possible bankruptcy.

"Since 2014, Medicaid has paid for my one dozen medications, surgeries, co-pays, neurological visits," said Jessica Gimeno, a supporter of the Affordable Care Act.

Gimeno, 33, joined Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin (D) and others on Friday at Rush University Medical Center to voice their concerns over the senate health care repeal bill, a plan Durbin said will take away health insurance from one million people in Illinois.

"People across America have their health care at risk because a group of politicians want a tax cut to the wealthiest people in this country," said Sen. Durbin.

Durbin called the Republican Senate plan meaner than the House version. While it includes a $600 billion tax cut, the bill slashes Medicaid and defunds Planned Parenthood for a year.

"This plan will put the health care for probably about 30,000 patients in Illinois at risk," said Jennifer Welch, Planned Parenthood of Illinois CEO.

Patients like Medicaid recipient Renee Wsol, a 34-year-old mother who said she relies on Planned Parenthood for reproductive services and cancer screenings.

"I can't believe after 100 years there is still so many myths about what Planned Parenthood provides," said Wsol.

Planned Parenthood believes it is a target because of the myth that all the organization does is provide abortions, a service that's not paid for by the federal government.

"We provide comprehensive reproductive health care services and it's those services funded by the federal government and those services are at risk now," said Welch.

Many of Planned Parenthood's patients include women from Indiana. When Vice President Mike Pence served as governor of the state, he de-funded Planned Parenthood. As a result, the organization claims Indiana has seen an increase in teenage pregnancies and an outbreak of HIV.

The organization fears that will happen nationwide if Medicaid is cut.
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