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updated: 10/14/2020 6:51 AM

How a Naperville family became part of Tuesday's Supreme Court confirmation hearing

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  • During Tuesday's Supreme Court nomination hearing, Sen. Dick Durbin highlighted the Williams family of Naperville in his argument to preserve the Affordable Care Act and the protections it provides to those with preexisting conditions.

    During Tuesday's Supreme Court nomination hearing, Sen. Dick Durbin highlighted the Williams family of Naperville in his argument to preserve the Affordable Care Act and the protections it provides to those with preexisting conditions.
    Courtesy of Sen. Dick Durbin

 
 

The story of a Naperville family's reliance on the Affordable Care Act was catapulted onto the national stage Tuesday during the second day of Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.

During the Senate Judiciary Committee's first round of questioning, Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois highlighted the medical struggles experienced by Les and Cathy Williams and their four sons, who have depended for years on the affordable health insurance and specialized care offered to people with preexisting conditions under the 2010 health care law.

Les and his oldest son, 27-year-old Matt, have Type 1 diabetes, while 24-year-old Joey and 21-year-old Mikey were born with cystic fibrosis. Mikey's twin, Tommy, died in January 2019 from complications related to cystic fibrosis, Cathy Williams said in a video on Durbin's social media pages, but she credited affordable care for giving her son "a pretty normal, healthy, precious 19 years with us."

Members of the Williams family echoed their support in the video, saying the ACA has offered access to frequent doctor visits, lab work, procedures and daily medication without a substantial financial burden. The boys can remain on their parents' insurance plan until they turn 26, and don't have to worry about being dropped or denied coverage due to poor health, they said.

"I worry that if the Affordable Care Act is eliminated and those protections are gone, my husband and I and our children might not have access to or be able to afford the insurance we need," Cathy Williams said. "We need those protections so we can look forward to a long, healthy life."

Durbin on Tuesday said Barrett's nomination threatens the future of the Affordable Care Act, potentially affecting insurance coverage for millions of Americans. Though previously critical of a past ruling upholding the ACA, Barrett said she is "not hostile" toward the act and would use the law to guide her decisions.

Even with a "decent-paying job," Joey Williams said in the video, he fears he wouldn't be able to make ends meet if he lost his Affordable Care Act benefits. And he considers himself lucky compared to those with preexisting conditions who can't hold a steady job and would be forced to choose between food and medication, he said.

"That's not even living at that point. That's just scrounging for survival," Joey Williams said. "We have to keep the ACA. I'm not even being dramatic when I say it's a matter of life and death for some people."