The Race on Healthcare: A Toss Up in the 13th Congressional

Image of Betsy Dirksen-Londrigan (D) left, and Rodney Davis (R) right

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Image of Betsy Dirksen-Londrigan (D) left, and Rodney Davis (R) right

With the COVID-19 pandemic still hampering life, the upcoming election bestows as good a chance as any for candidates to display their healthcare plans. The Illinois 13th Congressional district race serves as a model representation, pinning incumbent Rodney Davis (Republican) and Betsy Dirksen Londrigan (Democrat) further and further from each other.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has proved to be anything but perfect since its implementation. Between increased premiums, a lack of eligible enrollees and the constant threat of its repeal, both candidates seek change.

Voting to repeal the ACA in its entirety has been highly feared by Democrats while being a top priority of many Republicans since 2010. Incumbent Rodney Davis is voting to nullify the ACA 11 times with no immediate replacement, according to Illinois Newsroom. Of citizens living in the 13th Congressional district, repealing the ACA would take away healthcare coverage from over 31000 people and privileges from over 282500 with pre-existing health conditions.a

With that being said, Davis has historically supported those with pre-existing health conditions, often alluding to his wife’s struggle with a genetic form of colon cancer. Davis was a major supporter of the American Healthcare Act (AHCA) which would have made drastic changes to the ACA, repealing the individual and employer mandate while eliminating tax credits on healthcare costs. The AHCA would have guaranteed coverage for those with pre-existing conditions but would have allowed insurers to charge some higher premiums, depending on their terms. Davis has also proposed a healthcare bill of his own to protect those with pre-existing health conditions. Neither this bill nor the AHCA have been passed into law.

Davis’s overall plan looks to create more affordable healthcare, primarily employee-based. Questions have emerged over how people will be able to cope without the ACA during the pandemic, as a Trump association-backed lawsuit looks to appeal the federal statute. The early stages of this trial will begin on November 10. “I’m not in favor of the lawsuit going on right now,” said Davis in an interview with Saint Louis Public Radio. “We’re in a pandemic, let’s not let people think they won’t be able to keep their coverage.”

Rodney Davis has been immensely supportive of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) meant to provide employers financial assistance in paying their employees. Davis believes that the PPP will allow employees to keep their employee-based healthcare plans while maintaining a steady paycheck. While the PPP forces 75 percent of the federal loan to be spent on payroll, how much each employee is paid is entirely up to the business, according to Business Insider.

Betsy Dirksen Londrigan follows a much different initiative for fixing the healthcare crisis in this country. Londrigan has historically supported a plan called Medicare X, led by Democrat Senators Michael Bennet and Tim Kaine. Medicare X is aimed at offering low-cost health insurance choices while creating competition through the public option. The public option, which Londrigan supports, aims to maintain high levels of care, starting through rural hospitals.

Londrigan’s plan has faced backlash from independent outlets. A study by the Partnership of America’s Healthcare Future has stated concern for the plan’s effects on rural hospitals. Their studies show that hospital revenue would drop roughly 11.5 percent, risking the closure of 39 rural hospitals in Illinois. This study is ultimately theoretical. True results of Londrigan’s plan will only be visible in the details of such a bill.

            Londrigan’s plan aims to protect those with pre-existing health conditions through expanding similar coverage seen through the ACA. Londrigan has repeatedly argued against Davis’s support for the AHCA in which she stated in the last debate, “would have gutted protections with pre-existing conditions.”

            In a race decided by less than just a point last election, it appears this time around will not be much different.  Like most races, the 13th Congressional race serves as a referendum on the incumbent Rodney Davis (R) and whether or not voters think Betsy Dirksen Londrigan (D) is a worthy replacement.