On Jan. 9, Sapan Shah appeared before the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board. We asked him why he’s running for the GOP seat in the 10th Congressional districtof Illinois in the March 2018 primary:
My name is Sapan Shah. I’m a physician and successful entrepreneur from Libertyville and I’m running for Congress in the Illinois 10th Congressional District.
I have a great idealism about running. I feel that the country should be run be citizen legislators not career and trench politicians. I think people who have done something in the private sector should step up and represent the interest of the public. I think I have a few things to offer, specifically in health care. We had out of pocket costs go up, insurance premiums go up and my background uniquely suits me to help with that. Also, I’ve been an entrepreneur, I’ve started my own business and I’ve invested in numerous others startups and I know what it takes to get businesses off the ground so that they can create jobs.
Both of those are specific needs from the district itself. I mean, healthcare costs are a problem for every American and everybody in the 10th District. And jobs, we want to have a robust economy. We want to have more and more jobs, we want to have more business born in our district and I know what it takes to have that done.
The Chicago Sun-Times sent the candidates seeking nominations for Congress a list of questions to find out their views on a range of important issues facing the state of Illinois. Sapan Shah submitted the following answers to our questionnaire:
QUESTION: As a member of the House from Illinois, please explain what your specific cause or causes will be. Please avoid a generic topic or issue in your answer.
ANSWER: Reduce medical costs and heal our broken health care system by implementing cost saving methods I’ve worked on as a physician, lawyer and entrepreneur.
Put the American people back in charge of their government by instituting term limits (and leading by example).
Cut spending, reduce taxes, and support job creators, particularly small businesses and manufacturers.
Running for:10th Congressional district (Illinois)
Political/civic background: First time candidate
Occupation: Founder & Senior Vice President – Flagship Healthcare
Education: Case Western Reserve University – graduated Magna Cum Laude (in 2 years), earned law degree (in 2 years), then earned medical degree
Campaign website: DrShahForCongress.com
QUESTION: Please list three district-specific needs that will be your priorities. This could be a project that is needed in your district, or a rule that needs to be changed, or some federal matter that has been ignored.
ANSWER: Increase funding for infrastructure, especially public transit, as Metra is a critical asset for the 10th District.
Support the continued funding of Great Lakes Naval Station.
Protect Lake Michigan from pollution and work to mitigate shore erosion.
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QUESTION: If you are running as a Democrat, what is your best idea for getting any initiative you may propose advanced if the House continues to be controlled by the GOP after the 2018 elections?
TOPIC: President Donald Trump
QUESTION: What do you make of President Trump?
ANSWER: President Trump was elected, and if given the honor to represent the 10th District in Congress I will work with the President and anyone else elected to serve the people, to advocate for the interests of 10th District residents.
QUESTION: Which three actions by the Trump administration do you support the most?Which three do you oppose the most?
ANSWER: Enacting tax reform that provides tax relief to many middle and low income Americans
Reducing government red tape and unnecessary regulations on small businesses and entrepreneurs
Standing with our ally, Israel, regardless of opposition.
Failing to take steps to fix health care, despite having a public mandate to take action on this important issue
Engaging in petty squabbles and Twitter spats, which are below the dignity of the Presidency
Not getting tougher on Iran and re-imposing sanctions
QUESTION: What is your view of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian tampering in the 2016 election, including possible collusion by the Trump campaign. Does Mueller have your support?
ANSWER: I am not close enough to the issue to make that determination, as I have not been privy to information presented in private testimony and/or congressional hearing. I do believe the investigation should be allowed to run its course.
QUESTION: What should Congress do to reduce the threat of terrorism at home, either from ISIS or from others?
ANSWER: We need to continue to modernize our defense, as future threats are highly likely to be at least partially technological in nature. This is an area in which we have purportedly made progress, but it must be a major priority moving forward.
TOPIC: Guns and violence
QUESTION: What is the single most important action Congress can take to curb gun violence in the United States?
ANSWER: The focus needs to be on reducing crime, as violence is on the rise in our communities and we must make our streets safer for our children and grandchildren. We need to better support our law enforcement and provide them the tools they need to fight crime in the 21st Century and communicate between agencies. We need to continue to pursue criminal justice reform so that our justice system works to rehabilitate rather than simply incarcerate, which starts with addressing mandatory minimum sentencing. And, while unrelated to this exact question (but it’s not asked elsewhere in this survey), we can no longer afford to ignore the opioid epidemic facing our nation, as drug overdoses have now become the leading cause of death among Americans under 50.
QUESTION: Do you favor a law banning the sale and use of “bump stocks” that increase the firing speed of semi-automatic weapons?
QUESTION: Do you favor any further legal limits on guns of any kind?
ANSWER: Commonsense background and identity checks are reasonable and rational things to do
Or, conversely, what gun restrictions should be done away with?ANSWER: n/a
TOPIC: America’s growing wealth gap
QUESTION: As an editorial board, our core criticism of the tax overhaul legislation supported by the Republican majorities in the House and Senate is that it lowers taxes on corporations and the wealthiest Americans at a time of historic inequalities of wealth and income in the United States. We believe in free markets, but it does not look to us like the “silent hand” of the market is functioning properly, rewarding merit fairly. We are troubled that the top 1 percent of Americans own 38.6 percent of the nation’s wealth and the bottom 90 percent own just 22.8 percent of the wealth. Tell us how we are right or wrong about this. Does the growing income and wealth gap trouble you?
ANSWER: According to the liberal leaning Tax Policy Center, the recent tax reform bill will save money for 80% of Americans. Included in the tax package is the doubling of the standard deduction from $12k to $24k and the doubling of the childcare tax credit. These are gains for lower income Americans. Also, the cut in the corporate tax will be a boon for millions of small businesses and manufacturers—the backbone of the American economy. Those small businesses will be able to hire more workers and increase wages, reducing the wealth gap. Our focus should be on ensuring opportunity for all Americans, not ensuring equal outcomes for all.
TOPIC: International affairs
QUESTION: Do you support the Trump administration’s decision to move the United States embassy in Israel to Jerusalem? How will this help or hinder efforts to secure a lasting peace between Israel and its Middle East neighbors?
ANSWER: Yes. President Trump made a promise to Prime Minister Netanyahu and he is keeping that promise. Israel is our staunch ally and a tremendous friend to the United States. Peace talks have been the excuse for not making this move for decades, and yet we were no closer to peace. We must stand with our ally, especially as Iran continues to grow as a threat.
QUESTION: Is military action by the United States a plausible response to the nuclear weapons threat posed by North Korea? How might a U.S. military response play out for South Korea, Japan and China?What alternative do you support?
ANSWER: Our focus needs to be the safety of Americans. Only if North Korea harms American citizens should we pursue military action, but in such a case our response should be swift and unequivocal. Any U.S. engagement should be done in total solidarity with Japan and South Korea. Hopefully, China will actively cooperate and be on the right side of history.
More aggressive sanctions against North Korea.
QUESTION: The Supreme Court has ruled that the third version of the Trump administration’s travel ban on eight countries with predominantly Muslim populations can go into effect while legal challenges against the ban continue. What is your position on this travel ban?
ANSWER: While intended to protect Americans, the travel ban approach has been short-sighted. We should be focusing our efforts on strengthening screening and vetting processes as a long-term solution instead of broadly banning entire groups of people.
QUESTION: Has the United States in the last decade been accepting too many immigrants, and does this pose a threat to the American way of life?
ANSWER: A nation has the sovereign right to control who enters its territory, both for national security and independence. America is the greatest country in the world and will continue to offer great economic opportunities not available in other countries, resulting in a strong desire from good people in those countries to come here. However, we must insist on legal immigration and controlled entry to preserve our security as well as resources. My parents immigrated to America legally before I was born in Waukegan. Other members of my extended family waited patiently in line to immigrate legally per American immigration laws and quotas. I believe we need to do everything we can to curb illegal immigration while celebrating legal immigration.
QUESTION: Should the “wall” between the United States and Mexico be built? What might it accomplish?
ANSWER: I do not believe a wall will solve our problems, especially when right now we have immigration laws on our books that we don’t even enforce. I believe our focus should be on enforcing the laws we currently have, before we start enacting new laws or building walls.
TOPIC: Affordable Care Act
QUESTION: The tax reform plan created by Republican majorities in the House and Senate would eliminate the Obamacare “individual mandate” that most Americans must have health insurance or pay a fine. Does this threaten the viability of the Affordable Care Act? What more on this, if anything, should be done?
ANSWER: As doctors, we live under an oath to “do no harm.” It seems that politicians in D.C. live under no such oath. America has the greatest heath care in the world, which is why everyone comes here for their medical care, yet Washington continues to do all it can to break our health care system.
Thanks to lawmakers in Washington, the government is manipulating the healthcare marketplace to the detriment of patients and taxpayers. For many, premiums have skyrocketed despite higher deductibles and less coverage. Individuals have limited insurance options and are often left to struggle with backbreaking medical costs. Patients facing health challenges are left to fend for themselves within a confusing marketplace with fewer options and less competition.
Americans demand, and deserve, the best medical care in the world. As a doctor who has spent his entire adult life in and around the medical field, I am uniquely qualified to address the health care crisis we find ourselves in today. I spend every day supporting our medical professionals, especially those in private practice, so they can better care for patients and their families.
It’s time we reduced health care costs by reducing medical costs overall. We need to embrace and support competition and transparency in healthcare. Competition for healthcare services, especially items falling within deductibles, is very good for bringing costs down. This puts individuals back in charge of their own health care by giving them options- empowering individuals over government. We need to support independent physicians, hospitals and entrepreneurs that want to innovate to help patients reduce healthcare costs.
Also, Americans should be free to choose affordable insurance plans from anywhere in the country that meets the needs of their families. Fostering greater insurance company competition on top of greater consumerism in healthcare will compound cost savings for patients in our district.
Medical costs will go down further with commonsense legal reform that is cognizant of the complexity of medicine and unique expectations of modern healthcare. Fostering a climate that is not so negative towards doctors and hospitals will reduce repetitive testing and decreased indemnification costs. While our current system is lucrative for trial lawyers, it is overly burdensome to the medical field and leads to significantly higher medical costs. We should be rewarding good doctors for being here and serving our communities, especially since these small businesses create jobs and economic activity.
It’s well past time we stabilized health care so that future generations can affordably enjoy the greatest medical care in the world. I will end the games and get to work fixing our health care system.
TOPIC: The opponent(s)
QUESTION: What is your biggest difference with your opponent(s)?
ANSWER: My primary opponents don’t have the real world experience that I can bring to Washington to serve the residents of the 10th Congressional District. Both are entirely political, which does not fit the independent leadership the 10th District has enjoyed for many years. I have started a successful business and understand American entrepreneurs that take risks to keep our economy going. I have paid the taxes and health insurance bills that small business owners face. In addition, I have invested in dozens of early stage start up companies that will help our regional economy develop and grow.
As a doctor who has spent his entire adult life in and around the medical field and healthcare sector, I am also uniquely qualified to address the health care crisis we find ourselves in today. We need healthcare entrepreneurs and doctors at the table if meaningful, productive changes are to be achieved. Finally, I have committed to leading by example and holding myself to term limits, something my opponents have refused to do. The difference in this election is that I have consistently been doing things where my opponents are just commenting on them.