Candidate Full Name:
5th Congressional District
Campaign Office Mailing Address:
5026 W. Lawrence Ave.
Chicago, IL 60630
Please tell us about yourself, your background and why you believe you are qualified to hold this office.
I am running for Congress because I am passionate about health care. I own the largest independent primary care medical clinic in the 5th Congressional District. The clinic that I have built with my wife is located in the heart of the district and we serve patients who are mostly from this district. I come from a working class family and I learned strong family values, as do most people who live in the 5th.
I was born in Poland and my family moved to the U.S. when I was four years old. My father was a union organizer. The fair wages and benefits he fought for allowed me to go to college and medical school. I was in medical school in Poland during the Solidarity Movement. I smelled the tear gas and ran from the riot police.
For 25 years, I have been a physician serving my patients. I am running for Congress to fix our broken health care system, to continue serving my patients. In my 25 years as a physician in Illinois, neither I nor my patients have been so frustrated with health insurance companies.
As a primary care physician, I interact with the entire spectrum of health care in America. Unlike specialists that deal with only their specialty, I treat people with the full range of health concerns and fight for them to get the treatment they need.
I understand how freighting it is when people are at risk for losing their jobs and their family's health care at the same time. I have a plan that will preserve and create jobs by helping small and medium sized businesses decrease their costs so they can invest and hire more people. They can keep the people that they have employed, working for them in these tough times.
I am running for Congress because I know that we pay too much for our health care and it hurts our economy. In order to get our economy back on track, we must fix health care.
Like 40 percent of the people in the district, I speak a second language. I bring a unique view of the immigration issue to this campaign and hopefully to the Congress. My family moved here from Poland when I was four years old. I understand what it is like to come from another country. The people that I treat are primarily immigrants too.
From my personal experiences as a doctor, businessman and an immigrant, I have a different perspective that I will bring to Congress and be a voice for all people in the district.
Please tell us your general views about the role of government and some of the most important things you would like to accomplish in office?
The role of government is to do the things the private sector either cannot do or does poorly. For example, we must have government to provide for our national defense and law enforcement, but we would rather not have government involved with our religious organizations.
There are things that government must do, like regulating public utilities and other vital services to ensure that they serve the public in order to provide those services at low cost, high quality and high value.
Health care is a vital service which the government must oversee to prevent overcharging and price gouging. Spending 16 percent of GDP is a result of under regulation of entities that have the strongest lobbies and at the same time over regulating the entities that have the weakest lobbies.
In Congress, I would like to ensure that the government requires insurance companies to issue federally mandated standard health care polices. Currently, it is impossible to determine the value of an insurance policy. The amount of fine print, ambiguity and purposeful misinformation about the terms and conditions of the policies prevent consumers from making informed choices. Insurance companies need to compete on the basis of price and service. The only way that can happen is if the consumer can compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges.
Everybody deserves decent health care, everybody. Even the most conservative financial analysts, like Bob Brinker, understand that people need health care, whether they are employed or not. The U.S. is at a tremendous disadvantage because all other industrialized countries pay less for their health care and they are subsidized by their governments though providing health care. My goal would be to make health care available to all our citizens and to unburden companies, especially small and medium sized companies from the costs of providing it.
The current economic crisis is squeezing the middle class. What should Congress do about it? What specifically would you do if elected to Congress?
The current economic crisis is similar to the crisis that occurred in Japan 10 years ago. Hopefully we can learn from their mistakes.
The first thing that we have to do is to realize the depth and breadth of this crisis. Most economists agree that massive infusions of capital are needed in order to prevent deflation, a continued spiral job loss and economic contraction. I agree with the approach that puts money into the pockets of Americans so that they can pay their mortgages, buy cars and send their kids to college.
Second, we must fix health care. I agree with the use of tax incentives, in the form of tax credits for companies if they purchase the federally approved and mandated health care policy, as outlined under my health care plan. These tax credits would allow more employers to provide health insurance for their employees and thereby get more people in our country covered by health insurance. The lack of health insurance is a major factor in the economic crisis that individuals face. Half of all bankruptcies are due to unpaid medical bills.
This plan will help business too. They will be able to keep and attract more and better employees and the tax credits will lower the cost of doing business. As a small business owner, even in a "recession proof business," it is still hard to meet a payroll, continue to improve services and provide health insurance for your employees.
What are some of the main things you would do to help create jobs in Illinois?
Illinois is receiving the 5th largest amount of money in the current stimulus package and I would work hard to make sure that that level of funding is available to our state and especially to the 5th congressional district. Our district is in desperate need of infrastructure funding to provide public transportation improvements, which will help create jobs. We need to keep our car companies alive. Many of our residents work in the tool and dye making industry, producing parts for the auto industry.
We must fix our health care system and help to reduce the cost of doing business for Illinois companies. We need to increase our manufacturing base by investing in clean energy technologies like wind and solar power.
Homeowners need to get tax incentives for making their homes energy efficient, which will help to conserve energy and save homeowners money. Increasing energy efficiency will create jobs for people in the construction industry for those that retrofit homes. These are jobs that cannot be outsourced.
What do you think can be done to bring short-term stability to gas and energy prices? Also, what do you think is the best strategy - to both affordably and responsibly - provide for the nation's future energy needs?
One by product of the economic downturn is that price speculators in the energy markets have been driven out and our energy prices seemed to have stabilized. The greater problem is our dependence on foreign oil which creates a trade deficit and is a national security issue. By relying on foreign oil producers, we risk instability in the price of our energy supply. We can move away from this instability by focusing on our own energy sources in America. Natural gas, wind, solar, bio fuels, nuclear, coal and geothermal energy sources are part of the American energy portfolio and we must utilize them. We can move away from the foreign sources of energy. By producing our energy here, we can ensure price stability, decrease our trade deficit and increase our national security.
Is there anything that can be done to make health care more accessible and affordable in Illinois? If so, what would you do?
My plan calls for the insurance companies to standardize their health insurance plans so that people know what they are getting. Businesses or the self employed that use the basic plan would be eligible for a tax credit from the government to help with the costs. Those who already receive Medicaid or SCHIP plans would be eligible to get one of the standard plans and have it paid for by the government. My plan would also prohibit pre-existing condition clauses in insurance policies. Insurance companies would be competing on the same level of coverage and offer quality and value to keep customers.
The elements of my plan are below.
Standardized Health Insurance Policies. In order to create true competition, consumers need to be able to compare health care policies that provide the same benefits. Currently, it is impossible to determine which policy provides more value for the money due to the enormous amount of fine print and the existence of literally thousands of different policies. We need to be able to compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges. This can only happen if we have standardized health care policies. These would range from the basic standard health care plan that would provide decent health care for everybody to the gold-plated policies that people of means might decide to buy.
Tax Credits For Businesses Who Provide Standardized Health Insurance Plan. The U.S Government should help small and medium sized businesses by providing tax credits for funds expended to purchase basic health care for their employees. Standardization of health insurance policies would make that possible. Only the basic health insurance plan would be credited. If companies want to provide more health benefits than contained in the basic plan, they would be able to do so, but would not receive a tax credit for the extra expenditure. Small businesses need help.
Prohibit Pre-Existing Condition Clauses In Insurance Policies. The Congress should pass laws that would ban health insurance companies from writing pre-existing condition clauses into their policies. These pre-existing rules create uncertainty in what insurance companies cover, adding to the complex and confusing nature of health insurance policies. When a patient does have a pre-existing condition, they are left to pay for their care on their own. Out-of-pocket expenses have been rising at an alarming rate. Some patients have co-pays as high as $50 for an office visit. Health care costs are the leading cause of bankruptcy, responsible for half of all bankruptcies.
A National Platform for Integrated Health Care Records. A Platform for Medical Computer technology should be developed by the government in cooperation with companies like Microsoft and Google. This would be released as a non-proprietary system and available to all health care providers ? doctors, hospitals, imaging centers, nursing homes, pharmacies, public health departments, the CDC ? so that everyone will be on the same page and connected; Windows for Medicine! We need a medical information account that patients can access themselves and could then share with their caregivers if they choose. Patients would control the information and decide to whom and what information they would divulge. These individual health records would have to be secure and patient controlled.
Insuring The Self-Employed. The self-employed are often uninsured because they simply cannot afford to pay for health insurance. They cannot get group coverage because it is just them and under individual plans, they will pay higher rates. By implementing standardized health insurance plans, we can lower costs for individual coverage. Those people who are self employed, the real-estate agents, accountants, artists, consultants and writers, will be covered. Allowing them to expand their business, hire other workers and purchasing new equipment. Consistent health insurance coverage, regardless of work status, would give individuals the opportunity to start small businesses without the fear of being uninsured. Dependable health insurance would allow them to start new businesses that would hire employees, pay taxes and help grow our economy.
Please state your general views about the war in Iraq.
I was against sending troops to Iraq from the start. However, now that we are there, we have to rely on our military to provide for an orderly disengagement from the conflict as soon as possible. The American troops in Iraq are no longer fighting a war, they are occupying a country and we shouldn't be in that business.
What are your thoughts on how to deal with illegal immigration? Also, what do you think should be done about illegal immigrants who are already here in the U.S.?
The U.S. Immigration system is broken. We should have a rational immigration policy that is not racist. Far too often people of color are singled out and persecuted.
Our nation needs workers. Other countries in the world are dealing with depopulation. Thankfully, the U.S. population is growing. We need an immigration system that allows good, hardworking people to come to our country and become productive members of our society and our economy. We need a comprehensive immigration solution that will reform the entire system, not just one piece at a time. People should be treated with dignity. Since September 11th, some immigration authorities have become unreasonable and unfair towards travelers entering this country. I believe we must get every immigrant who is here already a Social Security number and give them the status to work here, immediately. Once they can work here as a productive member of our society and economy, we can have them apply to become a resident alien or citizen. The elements of my plan are below.
Create A Dependable and Workable Guest Worker Program. A Guest worker program is vital to preserve our agriculture businesses and other businesses that rely on foreign or migrant labor. Companies need seasonal employees and those individuals who were seasonal employees when our nation had borders that were more open to migration need to be able to depend on a new guest worker system. Not only is it an economic issue, it is a human issue. We must stop senseless deaths of people trying to cross borders in desolate areas risking their lives to become seasonal workers.
End the Backlogs Of People Who Have Applied to Come To The U.S. From Other Counties. We must work to quickly end the years-long backlog of applications for those people who have followed the law and are waiting. Too many people who want to become productive members of our society and economy are waiting for years to come to this country.
Pass The DREAM Act. We must pass the DREAM Act. The DREAM Act allows students who are the American-born children of undocumented workers to receive the in-state tuition rates that children whose parents are citizens receive.
Stop Families From Being Torn Apart. All too often, families are torn apart because of government crackdowns. This should end. No one benefits from tearing families apart. Families are also split apart by the backlog of immigration applications which can take years to process. Ensure Immigration Applicants Are Treated With Dignity. We must make sure that the people who apply to come to this country are treated with dignity. Many people who apply for citizenship or apply to come to this country are treated as inhuman by the system. These are people and they must be treated as people. There should be a system put in place that will allow the complaints of people who are being processed to be investigated without jeopardizing their status or application.
What ideas do you have for improving our education system and for making our colleges and universities more affordable?
First, we need to make provide early pre-school education to all children. We must also ensure that our k-12 education system is sound and serving children so that they are prepared to compete in the world and go on to higher education. Drop out rates in cities are unacceptable.
I support a tax deduction for all tuition dollars spent on higher education for four years of undergraduate and up to four years of post-graduate studies. The economic stimulus bill increases funding for Pell Grants and I support this. We must increase the funding for Pell Grants, lower interest rates on student loans, and make interest on student loans tax-deductible so that higher education is affordable for all qualified students. The stimulus plan also helps state budgets, which is important so that states do not have to cut budgets at public universities or raise tuition.
What are your highest priorities for protecting the environment in Illinois?
We need to keep the sewers from backing up in the western part of the 5th district. This is a big issue with many homeowners, and rightfully so. We need to protect our greatest treasure, Lake Michigan, by enforcing and strengthening clean water legislation.
We need to invest in public transportation that will improve air quality and decrease energy consumption. Along with this public transpiration funding, we should also try to reduce suburban sprawl and preserve open spaces, of which there are very few in the 5th district. We should invest in affordable housing and rehabilitate existing homes in residential and urban areas so that we can stop building homes that are too big, energy inefficient and too far from public transit.
None provided by candidate