The Republicans seeking Illinois' 10th Congressional District seat are critical of the embattled Affordable Care Act -- but all three said they would have voted against last year's GOP-led repeal efforts if they'd been in Congress at the time.
Doug Bennett, Dr. Sapan Shah and Jeremy Wynes are running for the Republican nomination in the district, which includes parts of Cook and Lake counties. The winner of the March 20 primary will face Democratic incumbent Brad Schneider of Deerfield in November's general election.
They discussed the heath care law and other issues with the Daily Herald.
Adopted in 2010, the Affordable Care Act mandated all Americans buy health insurance or face a fine. It also created health insurance exchanges and prevented health insurers from denying coverage to customers, among other changes.
Republican lawmakers repeatedly have unsuccessfully tried to repeal the law. With President Donald Trump in the White House, however, the GOP has killed some aspects of the law, such as the penalty imposed on people who don't buy insurance.
Bennett, a computer consultant from Deerfield, said the marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act are collapsing and customers' premiums and deductibles have risen dramatically.
Even so, Bennett said he would have opposed last year's repeal attempts because lawmakers tried to "rip everything out" without having a viable alternative in place.
Bennett also felt the final House bill left the bulk of the Affordable Care Act in place and didn't address structural weaknesses in the law.
"While I support any attempt to actually replace and repeal Obamacare, the final bill presented to the House for a vote did neither," he said.
Bennett supported an executive order Trump issued that sought to make lower-premium plans more widely available while removing some benefits required by the Affordable Care Act.
"But I am disappointed that Congress did not pass legislation for this and this was done by executive action," he said.
Shah, a Libertyville resident and an executive with a medical malpractice insurance company, called the U.S. health care system "broken." But he, too, disagreed with the previous GOP repeal efforts.
Shah suggested Congress focus on reducing medical costs by allowing people to choose insurance plans from companies offered anywhere in the country as opposed to just in their home state. Price transparency for medical services can lower costs, too, he said.
"Especially for outpatient, nonemergent care, this will catalyze great competition in our health care system," Shah said.
Shah also said tort reform in the medical industry could reduce testing and malpractice insurance costs, thus reducing patients' bills.
Wynes, of Highland Park, said the federal government shouldn't have taken control of health care. But like the other Republican candidates, Wynes said he would've voted against repealing the Affordable Care Act last year.
Wynes said he supported a recent proposal that would have replaced the individual mandate to buy insurance with a system of tax credits for those who do.
He also backed a plan that would authorize discounted deductibles and co-payments for qualified customers, as well as funding for state reinsurance programs that would help defray insurers' costs.
"The goal should be first and foremost to empower individual consumers ... not to expand federal control over a system that has been government-dominated for decades," Wynes said.
• Daily Herald wire services contributed to this report.