US Rep. John Shimkus on Obamacare repeal, replacement
Name: John Shimkus
Office seeking: U.S. Representative — 15th District of Illinois
City of residence: Collinsville
Campaign website: https://johnshimkus.com/
Why are you running and why should people vote for you? I firmly believe in less government, lower taxes, individual responsibility, and more personal freedoms and liberties. Those are the fundamental values of the vast majority of my constituents, and they’re the priorities I take with me to Washington.
Were the steel tariffs the right approach in fighting foreign steel dumping? Why or why not? If not, what should have been done? I can actually see Granite City Works from my house in Collinsville, and most all of us who call Madison County home have had a friend, a neighbor, or a relative -- my late grandfather worked there -- who earned a good living because of that steel plant. It’s undeniable that the president’s trade policies have brought hundreds of steel jobs back to Illinois, and I’m happy for the workers, their families, and our community. I’m proud to represent some of those steelworkers, just as I’m also proud to represent thousands of corn, bean, and pork producers across 33 counties in central and southern Illinois. I appreciate the president’s commitment to helping my farmers, as he’s already helped my steelworkers, by fighting back against countries, like China in particular, who engage in unfair trade practices.
What should be put in place or done to ensure fair trade agreements and long-term stability for everyone in your district? The sooner we negotiate better trade deals, the better off all my constituents will be. Illinois is the fifth leading exporting state in the nation, and our biggest trading partner is Canada. With the recently announced trade agreement with Mexico, it is my hope that Canada comes back to the table so that we can establish a more free and fair trade regime in North America.
Would you term limit yourself? If so, how many terms? We already have term limits. They’re called elections. The reality is Congress has always operated on a seniority system. Seniority gives representatives and senators experience with the legislative process and a deeper understanding of public policy. We should not stifle the voice and will of the people by placing arbitrary limits on the time those they elect can serve.
Has enough been done to address the ongoing opioid epidemic? If not, what else should be done? Effectively addressing the opioid crisis facing our nation requires an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ approach that leverages resources and builds on the expertise of all stakeholders, including public entities at all levels of government. And while there is no silver bullet, I’m pleased with the work being done in Congress to partner with state and local resources to address the unique needs of addiction sufferers across the country. In 2016, Congress enacted the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), which, among other policies, took steps to combat opioid addiction by bolstering state-run Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) and expanding access to naloxone to reverse overdoses and medication assisted therapy for those suffering from addiction. But in addition to treating patients with substance use disorder (SUD), we need to prevent addiction before it starts. That’s why I’m also working with my colleagues to reconcile differences between legislation passed this year by the House and Senate. Ultimately, it is my hope that we can send legislation to President Trump’s desk that promotes the use of non-opioid alternatives to pain management, while ensuring that patients with legitimate pain can continue to pursue the course of treatment determined to be most appropriate by their physician. Lastly, I believe it’s important to recognize that any effective efforts by state and/federal policymakers must address the underlying mental health causes of substance use disorder, be it addiction to opioids or other drugs like methamphetamine. While opioids are disproportionately impacting our nation right now, we need to pursue broad, long-term solutions that cater to the multitude of ways mental health challenges manifest.
Was eliminating a fine for not having health insurance as required in the Affordable Care Act the right thing to do? Why or why not? What parts of the ACA should be changed? Absolutely! While comprehensive health care solutions have been difficult to move through the Senate, I supported successful efforts to repeal not only the ACA’s individual mandate penalty, but also the law’s medical device tax. I also support the Trump Administration’s use of authority, granted to the Department of Health and Human Services by the ACA, to provide states with more flexibility to stabilize their own insurance markets and to make more affordable insurance options available to consumers, including short-term, limited duration plans. The bottom line is that the previous administration’s experiment with a national health care plan has turned out to be a disaster. Because of its top-down, one-size-fits-all, Washington-knows-best approach, many of my constituents ended up losing affordable plans they liked, or finding that higher premiums and deductibles made their coverage options unaffordable or unusable. Now a majority of House Democrats are supporting another attempted government takeover of healthcare that could throw as many as 158 million Americans off their current insurance plans! Instead of more government control, our health care system needs more choice and market-driven competition. An ideal system would enable insurers to offer a wider range of plans, including more flexible Health Savings Accounts along with catastrophic plans and expanded Association Health Plans. This patient-driven model would empower consumers to make choices based on their family’s budget and coverage needs.
Gun violence is a problem. What can and should be done to stop it? I am a staunch supporter of the 2nd Amendment and I do not believe that banning guns makes anyone safer. This is an important issue in my district as evidenced by the growing list of counties declaring themselves “sanctuaries” for gun-owners and the more than 250,000 of my constituents who have an Illinois FOID card. The reality is that 62 percent of gun deaths in America aren’t murders or homicides: they’re suicides. And among nearly all mass shootings that aren’t connected to domestic or foreign terrorism, it’s undeniable that mental health issues played a role. That’s why I believe that any proposal to reduce gun deaths is not serious unless it includes mental health provisions.