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The two candidates running for the Republican nomination in the 11th U.S. Congressional District discussed health care and electability during a discussion Tuesday at The Herald-News office.
Krishna Bansal, 49, of Naperville, and Rick Laib, 44 of Joliet, are vying for the GOP nomination. Bansal is an entrepreneur and businessman and Laib is a sergeant at the Will County Sheriff's Office.
Both Bansal and Laib shared their conservative approach to governing whether it'd be Laib advocating for government to disentangle itself from various sectors of the economy to Bansal decrying the rise of what he called "socialism."
When asked about health care, both Bansal and Laib said they'd wanted big changes.
"I think the government should get out of health care," Laib said. "I don't think you need to qualify that."
Laib later did qualify his stance when asked how he'd want to change the large government health insurance programs Medicare, for senior citizens, and Medicaid, available to low-income Americans.
Laib also said he understood how Americans have paid into such programs in order to be able to benefit from them, but added he'd like to see them phased out, although not immediately.
While Bansal said he believed in a "safety net" for low-income Americans, he added that he'd like to change Medicare into more of a 401(k)-style, health savings account system where individuals get to manage the money they save for their health care expenses.
Bansal also argued for less government involvement in health care and for the government to allow insurance companies to sell health insurance plans across state lines.
Both Bansal and Laib also made their pitches for why they would be the most capable of flipping the district to the Republicans. Foster, who is facing a primary challenge from Will County Board member Rachel Ventura, has been routinely reelected by wide margins.
Laib decried Foster for not embracing "pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, pro-free market" views and said someone had to stand for them.
"The other side has to be articulated," Laib said.
Bansal cited his endorsements from elected officials and political organizations, strong fundraising and ability to attract voters of color.
"I'm on the ground," Bansal said. "I'm raising money. I'm bringing people along and I'm building the consensus."
The 11th District includes portions of Joliet, Bolingbrook, Plainfield, Shorewood, New Lenox, Naperville and Aurora.
The Illinois primary election is March 17 but early voting has begun.