In an interview via Zoom with Illinois Newsroom’s Jim Meadows, Betsy Dirksen Londrigan said that her campaign for Congress, like her first one in 2018, was focused on healthcare. Listen here:
Dirksen Londrigan narrowly lost to Republican incumbent Rodney Davis two years ago. Now, the Springfield Democrat is making another run for Davis’ seat, and once again making access to healthcare her main issue.
“I want to strengthen the Affordable Care Act, protect the essential health benefits, fix the parts that need fixing,” said 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.
Dirksen Londrigan says she wants to move towards 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,” she said.
Meanwhile, Dirksen Londrigan says Congress needs to act promptly to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, both as a public health and an economic emergency. She criticized 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,” said 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. That we have more money in PPP loans for our small businesses. This is what needs to be done now. And we need rapid testing. If we want people to be able to get back to work, then we have to have rapid testing to start moving our economy forward. And we’re going to have a big rebuilding process when I get to Congress.”
Dirksen Londrigan says that after some of the several Black Lives Matter protests in the 13th District, she sees more people awakening to racial injustice, after the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd in May.
“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,” said 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 a 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 Rep. Davis’ criticisms tying her to embattled Illinois House Speaker and state Democratic Party chair Michael Madigan.