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Healthcare Expected To Be A Big Issue At Davis/Dirksen Londrigan Debate

13th District congressional candidates, Republican incumbent Rodney Davis (L) and Democrat Betsy Dirksen Londrigan (R) during their appearance at a debate in Springfield in October, 2018.

13th District Congressman Rodney Davis and Democratic challenger Betsy Dirksen Londigan will be asked about issues ranging from the economy to police reform, when they meet Monday evening (October 5) in Champaign for a debate to be aired lived by Illinois Public Media and WCIX-TV (X-49). But the candidates may have the most to say on the topic of healthcare.

The hour-long debate begins at 7 PM, airing on WILL-TV and Radio (AM 580 & FM 90.9),  WCIX-TV (ch. 49 in Springfield, & WCIA/Champaign’s digital ch. 3.2), and the Illinois Public Media Youtube channel. WCIA will broadcast the debate on its main channel at a later date.

Both Davis and Dirksen Londrigan have made healthcare a major campaign issue, both this year and in 2018.

Democrat Betsy Dirksen Londrigan of Springfield says she supports passage of a healthcare public option — a government-run health insurance program to compete with private insurance.

Republican incumbent Rodney Davis of Taylorville says the public option would cut payments to rural hospitals, forcing many to close.

But in an August interview for Illinois Public Media, Dirksen Londrigan said she would work for a public option that didn’t do that.

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

While Dirksen Londrigan wants to expand the Affordable Care Act, Davis wants to replace it. Under the law, he says some 60 million Americans still lack health insurance, or have insurance they can’t afford to use, due to high copays and deductibles. In an August interview, Davis said the American Health Care Act, a Republican healthcare bill that passed the House in 2017 but stalled in the Senate was a good alternative, “that would have protected preexisting condition coverage for every American.”.

Davis went on to say that the bill “would have lowered premiums for Americans, so that insurance coverage could have been more affordable for those sixty million Americans.”

While both Davis and Dirksen Londrigan have long seen healthcare as a key campaign issue, the topic in 2020 has fallen under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, and a case before the U.S. Supreme Court that seeks to kill the Affordable Care Act.

Monday evening’s debate between Davis and Dirksen Londrigan is presented by Illinois Public Media, with WCIA-TV and the League of Women Voters in Champaign County. The debate will be held at the WCIA studios in Champaign, and feature questions from a panel of local journalists and from 13th District constituents.

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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