Londrigan Says Her Health Care Plan Resonates With Urban And Rural Voters


Congressional candidate Betsy Dirksen Londrigan speaks during a town hall meeting on the University of Illinois campus in Urbana. Londrigran is running to unseat Republican incumbent Rodney Davis.

Anna Casey/Illinois Public Media

Democratic congressional candidate Betsy Dirksen Londrigan hosted a town hall-style meeting on the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus Thursday night. It was the 11th town hall out of 14 she is hosting around the district, according to her campaign.

Londrigan, a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, answered written questions submitted on notecards by attendees. “That’s how you know you’re in Champaign-Urbana. I don’t think I’ve had a stack of notecards this big yet,” Londrigan joked as she stood at the front of a classroom of about 150 voters representing a range of age groups. 

Many of the questions related to health care, something Londrigan said has been an overarching concern among both urban and rural voters during her town hall stops ahead of the Nov. 6 midterms. Londrigan said she would make protecting the Affordable Care Act a priority if elected.

“The GOP in Congress right now have done everything they can to put the ACA into jeopardy, into a death spiral, by chipping away at it,” Londrigan said. “Making sure we stabilize the ACA and that we have the protections in place that we all rely on is the first priority.”

She added that she was in favor of offering Medicare as a public option, something she said would help people in smaller communities who lack access to healthcare choices where providers have left the area or where small businesses can’t afford to provide health plans for employees.

The 47-year-old candidate and former teacher also listed education as a priority issue during the question and answer session. When asked what she would do to address student loan debt, Londrigan said she would call for more refinancing options as well expanded loan repayment benefits in exchange for public service. 

“We can also raise the caps on what they (employers) can provide for education to their employees,” Londrigan said. “That would help to absorb some of that cost.”

One town hall attendee asked how she planned to court rural voters. Londrigan brought up the topic of retaliatory tariffs that have been imposed on U.S. farmers by China, the largest market for U.S. soybeans, and the subsequent bailout from the U.S. government to make up for export losses.

Londrigan said President Trump’s tariffs on China “were a risk to take with peoples’ lives and livelihoods,” and added that farmers would prefer markets to sell to over a government bailout.

While Londrigan’s message Thursday was one of bipartisan cooperation – she began her town hall by saying she wouldn’t “get stuck in party politics” –  she did take aim at her Republican challenger, three-term incumbent Rodney Davis, for not hosting any in-person town hall meetings of his own in Champaign-Urbana. Davis has held telephone town halls, and “office hours” throughout the 14-county district he represents. But the office hour meetings are limited to five constituents at a time, according to his website.

Champaign was the only county in Illinois’s 13th Congressional District that went to Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race. This year's midterm election between Davis and Londrigan is considered to be a competitive race, but learning towards the Republicans, according to the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. That makes Champaign County one of dozens around the country that could contribute to Republicans losing their hold in Congress. 

Story source: WILL