Dold, Schneider still at odds over Affordable Care Act
As they battle to represent Illinois' 10th District in the U.S. House, Republican incumbent Bob Dold and Democratic challenger Brad Schneider remain on opposite sides when it comes to the Affordable Care Act.
Dold is largely critical of the 2010 law -- commonly known as Obamacare -- that mandates most Americans purchase health insurance through their employers or individually. He says it's led to skyrocketing insurance costs and fewer network options, which has affected people's ability to visit their preferred doctors.
"In Illinois, and specifically Lake County, people are paying more and getting less," he said.
Schneider called the law "an important step forward in providing health care to millions of Americans." But he also acknowledged the law is flawed and needs to be improved with future legislation.
And despite his complaints, Dold is fond of some parts of the law and has distanced himself from those Republicans who want to abolish it. Like Schneider, he'd prefer to keep the parts that work and amend what doesn't.
The 10th District includes parts of Cook and Lake counties. It stretches from Lake Michigan into the North and Northwest suburbs.
This is the third electoral showdown between Dold and Schneider. Dold lost the seat to Schneider in 2012, but won it in a 2014 rematch.
During the 2014 campaign, Schneider accused Dold of repeatedly voting to repeal or defund the Affordable Care Act, calling him "a reliable Republican vote."
In response at the time, Dold said many of those votes "were trying to fix some of the law," not repeal it.
This time around, Dold said he has encouraged Republicans and Democrats to develop bipartisan reforms.
Some solutions may be in House Speaker Paul Ryan's "A Better Way" health care proposal, Dold said. He said Ryan's concept "advances a number of positive ideas for structural changes to improve our health care system."
Asked to elaborate, Dold's campaign said the congressman likes that Ryan's plan expands personal health savings accounts, protects coverage for people with pre-existing conditions and breaks down barriers that prohibit people from purchasing insurance across state lines.
Dold also put down the fruitless, recurring Republican efforts to repeal the law.
"Taking show votes that have no chance of impacting public policy is not productive and does nothing to actually solve the serious problems facing American families and seniors," he said.
Schneider said Dold's insistence that he doesn't want to scrap the Affordable Care Act "rings hollow." He said Dold stood with the GOP and cast budget-related votes that targeted the health care law as recently as last year.
In response, Dold drew a distinction between votes on the budget and on the health care law itself. He pointed out he was one of only three Republicans who voted against a straight repeal of the Affordable Care Act in February 2015.
But that didn't placate Schneider.
"That's a distinction without difference," he said.
While staunchly supporting the law, Schneider has noted it has problems, such as a tax on medical devices he said will hinder innovation.
Schneider supported efforts to eliminate that tax in 2013. A two-year delay eventually was approved.
Moving forward, he said the law needs to address the costs of medical treatments, especially as health care techniques evolve, as well as quality of patient care.
"I've never said it was perfect," Schneider said of the law. "(But) we have to build on what we have."