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updated: 10/14/2020 7:18 PM

Buffalo Grove cancer patient’s story becomes part of Supreme Court confirmation hearing

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  • Video: Durbin questions Judge Barrett


For the second consecutive day, a suburban family has become part of the U.S. Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett.

And once again, Sen. Dick Durbin was the man shining the spotlight, using the story of Buffalo Grove resident Jared Ray to illustrate the importance of the Affordable Care Act -- a law many people believe the Supreme Court soon could strike down.

Durbin, a Springfield Democrat and a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, spoke of how Ray, 20, was able to get treatment for brain cancer through the provisions of the controversial health care program.

Ray was diagnosed with a brain tumor after experiencing severe headaches earlier this year, Durbin said during the session. Ray underwent surgery and then a six-week radiation treatment. He's now undergoing chemotherapy at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago.

The total cost of Ray's medical treatments has exceeded $700,000 so far before insurance payments, Durbin said during Wednesday's session. The Affordable Care Act's elimination of lifetime coverage limits helps patients like Ray, he said. It also allows Ray to remain covered by his mother's employer-based insurance until he's 26, among other benefits, Durbin said.

The problem now, Durbin continued, is that Republicans "are doing everything they can to take away this protection."

"They couldn't repeal the Affordable Care Act in Congress," Durbin told Barrett, who sat quietly as she listened. "Now they've taken it to the Supreme Court."

Durbin went on to say that Trump has wanted a nominee for the Supreme Court who would help strike down the law.

"It is a cloud over your nomination," Durbin told Barrett. Barrett tried to assure Durbin that she has no "hostility" toward the law.

Ray watched the televised hearing with his parents, Mike and Mary Ray.

"I think we're all still processing what happened this morning," Mary Ray said afterward. "This is a very important issue -- not only for Jared, but millions of Americans."

The Rays' story made it to Durbin through the Lurie Hospital staff.

"We appreciate the opportunity to bring attention and create awareness on this topic," Mary Ray said.

During Tuesday's hearing, Durbin highlighted the medical struggles experienced by Les and Cathy Williams of Naperville and their four sons, who depend on the health insurance and specialized care offered to people with preexisting conditions under the 2010 health care law.