Sen. Dick Durbin movingly described his sick child’s preexisting condition as a reason to support Obamacare last week, but the Illinois Democrat neglected to mention that his late daughter was easily covered by existing insurance, and that he used taxpayer money to reward the hospital that treated her.
Despite her preexisting condition, Christine Durbin, who suffered from a lifelong heart condition and died at age 40 in 2008, was eligible for coverage under existing laws in multiple states, including the senator’s state and the state she ultimately settled in.
Durbin also neglected to mention that he sent his daughter to one of the best children’s hospitals in the country, to which he earmarked millions of dollars from 2002-2010.
“I’ve had a situation in my family — a child — who had serious physical problems, who could not have qualified but for group health insurance available to me as a member of Congress,” Durbin said in response to a pointed question to Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.
“If I had gone on the open market to buy a policy I’m not sure I could have bought one for my family to cover my child,” said Durbin, who was first elected to Congress in 1982 when his Christine was fourteen.
In fact, Durbin wasn’t sure about buying a policy on the open market because he never had to, having been a state employee from 1969 to 1982 and a federal employee from 1982 to now. His daughter, Christine, who was born in 1968, never went without the cushy government benefits offered to government workers and their families.
State law also addressed the problem of individuals in the open market suffering from preexisting conditions. In 1987, Illinois passed the Comprehensive Health Insurance Plan (CHIP, which covered any Illinoisan who could not “obtain individual coverage from private insurance companies because of medical conditions.” Thirty-five other states have similar programs, including Maryland, where Christine ultimately settled.
Durbin also sent his daughter to the very expensive Children’s Memorial Hospital for care. Durbin was able to pay Children’s Memorial Hospital back with U.S. taxpayers’ money, giving the hospital over $650,000 in just one earmark in 2002.
“This new state of the art facility will enhance Children’s Hospital’s reputation as one of America’s best pediatric hospitals,” Durbin told the Chicago Tribune in 2012, at the opening of a new 23-story building.
Managed by the politically-connected Crown family, Children’s Memorial Hospital is one of the hospitals that has received the most federal earmarks of any hospital in the country, having received millions from Durbin and then-Sen. Barack Obama.