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Local News

Constituents 'die in' at Foster's Joliet office over health care, climate change

Demonstrators want Foster to support Medicare for All, Green New Deal legislation

A group of constituents held a “die in” at U.S. Rep. Bill Foster’s district office in Joliet on Tuesday, in order to pressure him to support more progressive policies.

Seven of Foster’s constituents appeared at his office near the intersection of Larkin Avenue and Black Road. They held signs reading, “Love it! Improve it! Medicare for All!” and “tombstones” that described how they “died” because of insufficient health care coverage or some sort of climate disaster.

The demonstrators, some of whom are involved in local political organizations such as the Will County Progressives, said they wanted to schedule a meeting with Foster, D-Naperville, to discuss his stances. While the congressman wasn’t in the office, two of his staff members greeted the demonstrators and said they could try to arrange a meeting for them.

The constituents also shared personal stories and made their arguments for the policies they favored, all while recording on Facebook live.

“This is completely peaceful,” Suzanna Ibarra, a Joliet resident and chairman of the Will County Progressives, told Foster’s staff members. “I just want you to hear my story.”

Janet Diaz, a Joliet resident, talked about how surgeries in 2007 left her with thousands of dollars in medical bills that she said she’s still paying off. She also tied her health care concerns into what she described as an urgent need to address climate change.

“People are going to die because of climate change,” Diaz said. “They’re going to burn. They’re going to starve.”

Ibarra said her group was there for about two hours. They were ultimately able to schedule a meeting with Foster later this week.

“We got a meeting so that’s what we wanted,” she said in an instant message.

This isn’t the first time progressive activists have targeted Foster. In June, members of the progressive group Our Revolution demonstrated outside of Foster’s Joliet office, demanding he support Medicare for All.

Foster has told The Herald-News that he prefers to focus on ways to improve the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as “Obamacare.” He said that he wanted to give Americans more options and not ban private health insurance for those who have it.

The congressman is facing a primary challenge from Will County Board member Rachel Ventura, D-Joliet, who is advocating for Medicare For All. She’s argued that a single-payer system such as Medicare for All would save Americans money and cover everyone, including the nearly 30 million people who are uninsured.

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