PARK FOREST - Opposition is fierce as Senate Republicans push ahead with another Obamacare repeal vote scheduled for next week.
It's a familiar story: Republicans want to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act, and Democrats are united in opposition. During the Obama years, the GOP tried more than 50 times kill it. Another repeal effort failed even after Republicans gained control of all three branches of government. If the latest one is going to pass, they have until a week from Saturday to do it.
This time around, comedian Jimmy Kimmel has entered the fray, using his late-night show as a platform to take on the GOP repeal effort. Kimmel's son was born in April with a serious heart issue that required open heart surgery, and he says his experience inspired him to get involved.
Kimmel has since criticized healthcare bills proposed by the GOP, especially over the issues of preexisting conditions and lifetime coverage limits. On Tuesday, Kimmel accused one of the co-sponsors of the GOP's latest bill, Sen. Bill Cassidy, of lying “right to my face,” after the senator said in May that any bill he would support would have to pass the "Jimmy Kimmel test."
The bill sponsored by Sen. Cassidy and U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham would:
- Eliminate penalties for people who go without insurance
- Eliminate federal Medicaid funding, replacing it with a program that sends money to states in the form of block grants for health coverage
- Allow insurers to charge more for people with pre-existing medical conditions
- Stop federal health care aid to the states in 2026
Associate Professor Amanda Star of the Kellogg School of Management said the bill would redistribute money from some states to other states.
"The idea being states can have the more flexibility to decide what to do with the money, which will now be distributed in one funding stream," Star said.
The latest proposal has the support of President Trump, who said it would "be a great thing for the country."
Both of Illinois' U.S. Senators oppose the measure, including Sen. Tammy Duckworth, who said almost a quarter of a million Illinoisans would see a tax increase as a result of the measure.
"Additionally, over a million Illinoisans would see their health insurance lessen or go away completely," Sen. Duckworth said.
Former president Obama continues to defend the Affordable Care Act, his signature legislative accomplishment.
"It's certainly frustrating to have to mobilize every couple of months to keep our leaders from inflicting real human suffering on our constituents," Obama said.