GOP hopefuls in the 11th district differ on Obamacare
The four Republicans in the March 18 primary race to take on Democratic U.S. Rep. Bill Foster appear to dislike the Affordable Care Act as much as they want Foster out of office.
But the candidates differ on what they believe should happen to President Barack Obama's signature health care law.
"Obamacare is definitely the biggest issue right now in government," said state Rep. Darlene Senger of Naperville, who decided not to seek re-election at the state level to make a bid for the 11th Congressional District seat. "We're finding every day that something is being changed about it."
Two of Senger's opponents in the GOP primary -- Ian Bayne of Aurora and Chris Balkema of Channahon -- insist the Affordable Care Act should be repealed.
Balkema, who is a Grundy County Board member, says the numerous revisions and delays of certain parts of the law aren't improvements.
"President Obama is not making the bill better," Balkema said. "He's delaying it. Obama is delaying it for political reasons to get past the midterm elections. So would I repeal Obamacare? Absolutely."
Still, Hinsdale businessman Bert Miller, the fourth GOP candidate in the primary race, said he doesn't think a repeal of the law is going to happen. Therefore, he wants to fix it.
"What I envision is going to work on Obamacare," said Miller, owner of Naperville's Phoenix Closures.
Miller said both sides of the aisle agree the country needs "some kind of support" for those who can't afford health care. He also says that people with pre-existing conditions should be able to get health insurance.
"We didn't need this massive bill to handle health care in America," said Miller, adding he would seek to reduce the size and scope of the law.
Miller said he supports eliminating the employer mandate to give businesses more flexibility.
He also said insurance companies should be allowed to sell their product across state lines.
"We need more competition," he said.
Senger said she wishes the Affordable Care Act could be repealed. But she said there are families who couldn't afford insurance who now qualify for Medicaid programs that were expanded because of the law.
"What do you do with them?" Senger said. "So this is more than just a 'get rid of the whole thing,' because you do have individuals who are in the system."
Senger says a safety net is necessary and "pre-existing conditions need to be taken care of."
But she said the Affordable Care Act failed to reduce the cost of health care. Instead, it simply shifted who's going to pay for it.
She said reforming the nation's health care system can't be achieved through "costly mandates."
"We need to get back to the free market," said Senger, adding she supports the idea of allowing customers to buy health insurance across state lines.
"If one had the ability to actually shop for themselves in a more knowledgeable manner," she said, "that would actually help drive the cost of health care down."
Still, Bayne said he believes "very strongly" that the Affordable Care Act should be repealed. He said no part of it is worth keeping because the entire law is "fundamentally flawed."
"The basis of it is rooted in government control and government mandates," said Bayne, who is a private investigator.
To improve the health care system, he said, the government needs to "get out of the way of the free market."
Balkema said there is "very little" he likes in the health care law.
"The fact that you can stay on your parents' (insurance) plan until 26 and then at 27 pay a penalty for not buying it on your own," Balkema said, "to me, it doesn't make sense."
In fact, Balkema said he doesn't believe enough young people will sign up for a health plan to make the system sustainable. "We're heading for an Obamacare bailout," he said.
Balkema said the Affordable Care Act should be scrapped and replaced with something that provides "some sort of safety net" for those who need it.
"But you can do that without bankrupting the whole nation," Balkema said.
The winner of the GOP primary will advance to the November election to challenge Foster.
A fifth Republican candidate, Craig Robbins of Lisle, said he is going to drop out of the race.
The 11th Congressional District includes Naperville, Aurora, Woodridge, Lisle, Darien, Bolingbrook, North Aurora, Plainfield and Joliet.