Sen. Dick Durbin brought the health care fight to Chicago this weekend, where he held a press conference telling insurance companies in Illinois and throughout the country that the "party's over" in the wake of recent reports showing that insurance companies are willing to walk away from consumers to raise premiums.
In an effort to stress the need for health care reform--which many believe is very close to passing--Durbin pointed out that health insurance premiums could increase up to 60 percent in Illinois this year while insurance companies are basking in incredibly high profits.
"For those in Washington who say 'Go slow...Start over...Don't do anything big...Go small.' I would like to tell them a simple fact of life: From 2000 to the year 2008, insurance companies raised their average family premiums faster than wages," Durbin said. "The profits for the ten largest insurance companies across America increased 250 percent between 2000 and 2009, so for those who say 'Go slow,' I can tell them this: The health insurance companies across America aren't going slow when it comes to raising premiums."
According to Durbin, this means premiums have risen 131 percent in the past decade, while wages have gone up just 38 percent, and that on average, 11,000 American workers lose their coverage every day.
"The outrageous premium prices which they have been pushing on the American people in order to drive up their profits are unacceptable and unfair," Durbin said. "We're going to start watching them more closely, requiring them to spend a higher percentage of premiums going for actual medical care. The party's over."
Durbin said the only way to change the current system is to pass President Obama's reform plan, which would end "insurance company abuses."
The Chicago Tribune spoke to several small business owners affected by skyrocketing health insurance costs.
Valerie Ihara, of Palatine, told the paper how hard it is to find health insurance she will be able to afford after her husband retires in two years. A recent quote she received was a $10,000 deductible with a $2,000 per month payment.
"I'm not asking for a handout. I'm asking for a level playing field," she told the Tribune "It's not fair that I have cancer. But it's not fair that I have to fight my cancer and the insurance companies."
Watch part of Durbin's press conference here: