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Dirksen Londrigan Keeps Focus On Health Care In 2nd Run For Congress

Betsy Dirksen Londrigan, at a February 10 candidate's forum in Champaign, while campaigning for the 2020 Democratic primary.

CHAMPAIGN – In the 2018 race for  U.S. Representative of Illinois’ 13th congressional district, Betsy Dirksen Londrigan narrowly lost to Republican incumbent Rodney Davis. Now, the Springfield Democrat is making another run for Davis’ seat, and once again making access to health care her main issue.

Hear Dirksen Londrigan’s interview via Zoom with Illinois Newsroom’s Jim Meadows here:

“I want to strengthen the Affordable Care Act, protect the essential health benefits, fix the parts that need fixing,” says Dirksen Londrigan. “And my goal is to make sure that every person has access to quality, affordable care.”

Dirksen Londrigan says her son’s battle with a life-threatening case of  Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever taught her the value of having good health insurance and the importance of putting healthcare within reach of every American.

She says she wants to move toward universal healthcare in the U.S., through support of a Medicare-like public option that competes with private insurers, but she’s looking for legislation that has the backing of the local medical community.

“Any option that I would support, I would make sure to be working with the hospitals and the doctors and the health care workers in our communities, to figure out what exactly we need to do to make something like that work,” Dirksen Londrigan says.

Meanwhile, Dirksen Londrigan says Congress needs to act promptly to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, as both a public health and economic emergency. She criticizes Republican leaders of the U.S. Senate for recessing in mid-August after negotiations on a new COVID-19 stimulus package broke down.

“I find it shocking that the Senate has recessed with no plan,” says Dirksen Londrigan. “Congress needs to do its job. They should be there or be voting by proxy to make sure that unemployment benefits are extended (and) that we have more money in PPP loans for our small businesses. This is what needs to be done now.”

She says the U.S. needs rapid COVID-19 testing, to help people get back to work and start moving the economy forward.

“And we’re going to have a big rebuilding process when I get to Congress,” she says.

Dirksen Londrigan says that after taking part in some of the Black Lives Matter protests in the 13th District after the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd in May, she sees more people awakening to racial injustice. 

“I look forward to addressing both the issues with police, whether it’s banning choke-holds, whether it is making investments in in better training,” says Dirksen Londrigan.

“But we also have to make sure that we’re looking at some of these systemic issues. There are tentacles of racism in so many of our systems, whether it’s the economic system, whether it’s the education system, whether it’s the housing system. These tentacles are very far-reaching in our nation. I am ready to get in there and to start dismantling those systems.”

In her Illinois Newsroom interview, Dirksen Londrigan also discusses her pledge not to take campaign contributions from corporate political action committees (PACs), and responds to Rep. Davis’ criticisms tying her to embattled Illinois House Speaker and state Democratic Party chair Michael Madigan.

Listen to an interview with Dirksen Londrigan’s opponent, U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis here.

Picture of Jim Meadows

Jim Meadows

Jim Meadows has been covering local news for WILL Radio since 2000, with occasional periods as local host for Morning Edition and All Things Considered and a stint hosting WILL's old Focus talk show. He was previously a reporter at public radio station WCBU in Peoria.

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