News Local/State

Durbin Meets With Rockford-Area Healthcare Leaders About Repeal Plan

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin meets with Dr. Bill Gorski on March 10, 2017

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin meets with Dr. Bill Gorski on March 10, 2017. Jenna Dooley/WNIJ

Healthcare leaders are voicing concerns about the Republican repeal plan to the Affordable Care Act. Democrat Dick Durbin is traveling the state to meet with those who would be affected by the House changes. A panel of Rockford-area healthcare leaders met with Illinois’ senior Senator on Friday.

Dr. Bill Gorski is CEO of Swedish American Hospital. He spoke of concerns with a rollback of Medicaid expansions which he says increased access for the most vulnerable patients.

But he says the political chasm over the law is far more fundamental.

“It strikes me that our society has never come to an agreement that we will provide equal access to high-quality healthcare for everyone in this country and that there will be a payment mechanism that supports that," Gorski told Durbin. "To me, it sort of seems like recognizing my belief that it is a right of people to have that. It seems like we would start there and then work into ‘What are the mechanisms to do it?’”

Durbin says he’s alarmed at the pace of the proposed changes.

“You can’t change the healthcare system in America in two weeks and expect a good result,” Durbin said.

Illinois’ Republican Governor says the repeal plan wouldn't benefit the state. Durbin says Rauner's stance proves criticism to the changes goes beyond party lines.

Durbin says he's waiting for the Congressional Budget Office to release cost and coverage estimates.

"The approval rating for the Affordable Care Act has gone up since the conversation about repeal started," Durbin told the panel. "It’s an indication of this psychological reaction. When you say you are going to take  something away from people, they start saying ‘That may be valuable to me.’”

Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan touts the measure as a first step in an overhaul of the healthcare system.