Now that Republican efforts to scuttle Obamacare have failed, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin said Wednesday he is hopeful a bipartisan reform measure can emerge.
The Illinois Democrat said he trusts GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee to help come up with health care reform.
Alexander and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state are heading up a group to look at the Affordable Care Act after the GOP effort to repeal Obamacare failed.
Speaking at Chestnut Health Systems in Bloomington, Durbin said the solution may come at an unusual pace.
"Well, this is a word you don't associate with the Senate very often, but fast. The premium subsidy that the federal government gives to insurance companies is in danger. If we don't pay it, the health insurance companies have told us they will raise premiums through the roof. So, we've got to come up with an alternative, and fast," said Durbin.
Durbin said the deadline for action is effectively the end of the year.
Durbin said he's sure he will not like some provisions in whatever emerges from negotiations. He said he would like a measure that preserves Medicaid and the number of people who have gained insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act.
Durbin was visiting the Community Health Center on Wylie Drive run by Chestnut Health Services.
Chestnut Vice President of Behavioral Health Services Jean Hartman said so far this year the center has served 277 people with opiate addictions.
"That is more than all of last year," said Hartman.
Durbin said community health centers improve access to affordable, high-quality health care in underserved urban and rural communities by integrating primary health care with pharmacy, mental health and substance abuse treatment, and oral health care services.
“Community health centers are on the front lines of our fight against the opioid epidemic. In 2015, there were 1,835 overdose deaths in Illinois—more than the number of traffic deaths and homicides combined. And today, only 12 percent of Illinoisans who need substance abuse treatment actually receive it,” said Durbin.
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