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About the Candidate

Name: Kristine Schanbacher
DOB: March 19, 1987
Occupation: Attorney
Political Experience: Volunteer lobbyist with the Greater Chicago Food Depository and for the Joint Action Committee. Volunteer for several campaigns including: Lori Lightfoot, Jane Raybould (candidate for U.S. Senate – Nebraska), Lauren Baer (Candidate for U.S. House of Representatives Florida’s 18th Congressional District)
Twitter: @votekristine

Candidate Statement

Hello my name is Kristine Schanbacher.

I am a human rights activist and attorney and I am running for Illinois’ 7th Congressional District.

We are the richest country in the world, and yet, we are leading the world in prison population, mass shootings, guns per person and prescription drug prices.

We have the resources and the knowledge to be a world leader in education, in healthcare, in human rights, infrastructure, green energy, and quality of life.

What we lack is the political will to stop following failed policies and the political courage to implement humane, effective, and in many cases less expensive policies.

I know that talk is cheap.

And that is why I don’t just talk about progress.

I have a proven track record of getting things done.

I won asylum for a transgender woman fleeing severe violence in Mexico.

I helped overturn a law that would have shut down all the abortion clinics in Wisconsin.

I helped reinstate food benefits that were wrongfully terminated in the Chicagoland area.

I represented a non-violent low level drug offender in his clemency hearing, because his 30-year old conviction continued to hold him back from better employment. That is ridiculous.

Lastly, I represented a juvenile who was unconstitutionally sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole and we got him a fair reduced sentence.

Outside of the courthouse, I have lobbied Congress to: strengthen food benefits, protect choice, protect the separate of church and state, eliminate anti-Semitism, and for common sense gun safety regulations.

So I don’t just talk about things, I get them done.

I want to represent the 7th Congressional District and help make this district one in which no matter where you live, you have access to sufficient, nutritious food, affordable housing, good education, healthcare, jobs, and you are safe.

It is going to take a lot of work, but together we can get it done.

Candidate Q&A

Why are you running?

I am running for U.S. Congress, because we should be doing better in almost all aspects of an organized society. We are a world leader in prison population, mass shootings, prescription drug prices, and guns per person. Instead, we can and should be leading the world in education, healthcare, human rights, innovation, green energy, infrastructure, and quality of life.

As an attorney, I have a proven track record of being a powerhouse for human rights. I helped reinstate wrongfully terminated food benefits, secured asylum for a transgender woman fleeing severe violence from Mexico, won a reduced sentence for a juvenile unconstitutionally sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, and helped keep abortion clinics open across Wisconsin. In addition to my human rights victories in the courtroom, I have lobbied Congress to protect: food benefits, the right to choose, and the separation of church and state, and to enact common-sense gun safety regulations. I want to take my proven track record of getting things done and fighting for human rights from the courthouse into the halls of Congress.

What is your vision for this office?

This District is a super majority blue zone. It should be a powerhouse for human rights and a backstop against the GOP.

The first priority will be to reduce hunger in the district. Approximately 1 in 7 people in the Chicagoland area are chronically food insecure. To reduce hunger, we need to increase federal funding, including increasing SNAP benefits. We also need more food pantries, more mobile fresh food trucks, and we need more grocery stores, particularly in zones that are food deserts.

What do you think is the most pressing issue facing your constituents and how do you plan on addressing it?

Based on my conversations with constituents and a recent poll in the Seventh Congressional District, I believe that healthcare is the most pressing issue facing constituents. I have spoken with constituents who are burdened with medical debit and constituents who are forced to chose between filling their prescription medicine, paying rent, or buying groceries. We can improve our current healthcare system in two important ways: (1) improve the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) and (2) lower prescription drug costs.

Improve the ACA

An important way we can enhance the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) is to add a public health insurance option, which was in the original 2010 ACA proposal, but it was dropped as part of a compromise to pass the bill. A public option would create an affordable alternative to private plans, expanding coverage, specifically capturing the millions of uninsured Americans who do not qualify for Medicaid, but who are often priced out of private health insurance. Adding a public option to the marketplace also limits private provider pricing power, and therefore helps control the costs of quality care regardless of provider.

A country that the US can look to for a model of a public-private insurance system is Germany. Germany’s public insurance option is made available, free of out-of-pocket costs, to anyone making less than a minimum annual income. It is paid for mostly by employers and employees through payroll contributions. The plan covers primary care, as well as specialty care, prescription drugs, and medical devices. Anyone who wishes to have additional benefits, beyond those offered by the public option, may buy a private insurance plan to cover those additional benefits, similar to Medicare Part C in the US. This system allows everyone access to affordable, quality health care, regardless of income and ability to pay.

Lowering Prescription Drug Costs

Prescription drug prices continue to skyrocket, and it is unacceptable that drug makers continue to raise drug prices and profit at the expense of the people who rely on those drugs every day. We must enact measures to cap drug price increases and to pass along existing savings to consumers.

Allowing drug importation from Canada would have a huge impact on drug prices in the US. It would provide a cheaper alternative to the options available to consumers in the US, even the generic drug options. The US allows drug companies to charge virtually any price they want and the FDA grants market exclusivity to brand name drug manufacturers for a period of time before generic drug manufacturers can bring the same drug to market at a lower cost. Those two factors together have created a system in which consumers who rely on life-saving drugs have no choice but to pay whatever price the drug companies charge. If those consumers were able to import drugs from Canada, they could obtain the same drugs at a lower cost, because there are more options available in Canada. Further, drug manufacturing is strictly regulated in Canada, just as it is in the US, so drugs made in Canada are as safe as the drugs made in the US. There is absolutely no reason, other than the drug companies’ objections, to continue the prohibition on drug importation from Canada.

Another measure that would curtail drug prices is better regulation of Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs), which serve as middlemen that negotiate discounts on drug prices from drug manufacturers, on behalf of their pharmacy clients. Currently, the discounts PBMs negotiate are non-public, confidential information. These discounts should be made public in order to help negotiate better prices for consumers who pay directly out of pocket for their drugs. Publicizing the amount of these discounts will also allow prescription drug plans to better negotiate its reimbursement rates and pass along those savings to members through lower co-payments and deductibles.