11th District Republican candidates agree health care needs to change
The three candidates vying to become the Republican Party nominee for the U.S. 11th Congressional District seat agree that the Affordable Care Act needs to be replaced with something better, but they have varying opinions on what changes should be made to improve health care for everyone.
Cardiologist Nick Stella has a unique understanding of the act due to his work as a doctor. The Darien resident said he believes it needs to be repealed and replaced because it was not thoroughly reviewed by people with a full understanding of the health care sector and has, in turn, created multiple unintended consequences.
"It has dumped millions upon millions of people into the Medicaid program," Stella said. "If you look at two people having the same disease process, but one having Medicaid as their insurer and the other having a third-party payer as their insurer, a private insurer, the outcomes for the person with Medicaid are worse. Why does this administration feel it's OK to give the poor people inferior health care?"
To solve some of those problems, Stella said, people should be allowed to buy insurance policies across state lines and more privatization should occur. He also thinks small companies should be able to form co-ops that would give them more leverage to negotiate lower rates with insurance companies for their employees.
Herman White, a physicist from Naperville who served on Edward Hospital's board of directors for more than a decade, said he believes the current act was designed with too much focus on access to affordable care and not enough on the delivery of health care.
"We don't have enough doctors, we don't have enough specialists, we have a crisis in nursing, we have a crisis also in the delivery of medical technicians who are engaged in providing the expertise for using some of the most mind-boggling technology that exists in health care," White said. "We don't have enough people to do it and that particular part of the health care problem was not actually addressed by the Affordable Care Act and is not actually being addressed now."
He said he hopes that if the act is revised that lawmakers take a more comprehensive look at health care and considers doctors who are struggling to set up their own businesses and survive when Medicare and Medicaid inefficiencies result in long waits before they receive compensation.
Tonia Khouri, a small-business owner and DuPage County Board member from Aurora, says big changes need to happen to the act. However, she said she wouldn't vote to repeal it until another law is passed to replace it.
"Until it is repealed though, I don't think we should sit back and do nothing," she said, adding she wants a system that focuses on patients more than insurance companies. "I would keep chipping away at it."
She agreed with Stella and White that prohibiting insurance companies from excluding pre-existing conditions from their coverage was a positive aspect of the act. But Khouri voiced concerns about the number of people who have lost their doctors and have seen their premiums go up since the act was put in place.
"No one denies we need to reform the health care system," she said. "But we need a health care system that first interjects competition, allowing people to buy their health care from across state lines.
"Competition breeds better quality and lower prices," she added, "and we need to make sure it's affordable for everyone."
The winner of the March 15 GOP primary will face incumbent Bill Foster in the November general election. The 11th Congressional District covers parts of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall and Will counties, including Aurora, Naperville, Bolingbrook, Burr Ridge and Joliet.