Demonstrators demand 'Medicare for All' outside Foster's Joliet office

Progressive group wants Democrats to support single-payer system

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A group of about 15 people protested outside U.S. Rep. Bill Foster’s office to pressure him to support a single-payer health insurance proposal called “Medicare for All” on Friday.

Leaders of the local chapter of Our Revolution, a progressive organization created by supporters of Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign, led the demonstration.

Joseph Geevarghese, the national director of Our Revolution, said the political group has traveled to various Congressional districts across
the country on an "Emergency
Ambulance Tour," to pressure Democratic House members to support the bill.

“We the people, his constituents, are here to educate him on why this is good politics and good policy,” Geevarghese said.

Geevarghese decried members such as Foster who have yet to support the “Medicare for All” bill, citing majority support among the Democratic base. Demonstrators held signs that read “Democrats against Medicare for All make me sick” and “Hey Democrats 123 people will die today without Medicare for All.”

The latter slogan was a reference to a Harvard University study which found that about 45,000 Americans die every year because of a lack of adequate health care insurance.

Other local officials such as Will County Board members Herbert Brooks Jr. and Rachel Ventura participated in the demonstration. Ventura shared her personal story of her fear in leaving her previous marriage with an abusive husband and losing health insurance in the process.

“If we do not have health care as a right, there are millions of people in relationships, abusive relationships, and they fear leaving,” Ventura said. “And they stay in a horrible situation because they’re too afraid. That is not a government that works for everyone.”

The demonstrators earned a few honks from passersby as well as a meeting with Foster himself after their demonstration. They said Foster agreed to meet with them about “Medicare for All” after he learned they would be at his office.

Earlier this week, while Foster agreed affordable health care coverage is a “basic human right,” he expressed a difference of opinion as to how to get to universal coverage. He said he believed in a “more realistic” way to cover every American with a “step-by-step” approach.

“I’m happy to come to talk to my constituents,” Foster said. “We’re on the same side.”

Alex Ortiz

Alex Ortiz is a reporter for The Herald-News in Joliet. Originally from Romeoville, Ill., he joined The Herald-News in 2017 and mostly covers Will County government, politics, education and more. He earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a master's degree from Northwestern University.