Republicans and Democrats remain far apart when it comes to health care reform.
Vindication wasn’t on John Boccieri’s mind Thursday afternoon as he talked about the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act.
“It’s about what’s right,” Boccieri said in a telephone interview. He said that means helping people get health care after they had been denied by insurance companies.
Late in March of 2010 after months of not committing to President Barack Obama’s efforts at health care reform, Boccieri announced he would support the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. The measure passed by a highly partisan 219-212 vote.
The “yes” vote haunted Boccieri — a first term Democrat from Ohio’s 16th District — as he sought re-election. U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Wadsworth, easily won the election with 52-percent of the vote, compared with Boccieri’s 41 percent and 7 percent for Libertarian candidate Jeffrey J. Blevins. Many cited the Obamacare vote as a key reason for Boccieri’s loss.
Since Obamacare’s passage in 2010, Republicans have vowed to repeal the law. The cry heightened after Thursday’s ruling, especially after Chief Justice John Roberts said called the law constitutional because it is a tax.
Boccieri — who is working for Obama’s re-election and helping the campaigns of Sen. Sherrod Brown, R-Avon, and Ohio 7th District candidate Joyce Healy-Abrams — counters that repeal isn’t the answer.
“This is the first installment into a long-term plan,” he said, adding that Republicans who call for repeal aren’t offering an ideas to keep health care reform alive.
REPUBLICANS: SMARTER REFORM
Republican congressmen were quick to grab the call for repealing Obamacare and replacing it with a new law.
Renacci said there is a need for health care reform. “But we need to make sure we do it in a smarter fashion, not drawing up a 2,400-page bill,” he said.
U.S. Rep. Bob Gibbs, R-Lakeville, said he expects another repeal vote in the House during the week of July 11, although he doubted the Senate would consider the measure. Gibbs said he has voted on 30 bills aimed at repealing all or part of Obamacare.
While health care reform is needed, Gibbs said, it can’t be a repeat of 2010. He added that from the beginning Republicans have been calling the health care law a tax. “The Supreme Court upheld that.”
Renacci and Gibbs both argue the law is driving up health care costs instead of bringing relief, and has been a burden to small business owners. They believe a majority of Americans oppose the law and want it changed.
‘KEEP THE GOOD’
If that’s the case, then make a change, Boccieri said. “Keep the good stuff. Change the stuff that doesn’t work, and move forward,” he said, echoing statements from other Democrats.
Page 2 of 2 - Healy-Abrams, who is challenging Gibbs, said issues such as coverage for pre-existing conditions, the ability to keep young adults on a parents’ insurance plan and ending life-time limits should remain intact. “It’s wrong to refuse covering middle class Ohioans,” she said.
But she has concerns about the bill. “As a small business owner I don’t think it does enough.”
Boccieri called the fight over health care reform an attack on President Obama. “They weren’t even being covert about it,” he said of the Republican campaign against the law.
The former congressman also finds in frustrating that the Supreme Court case hinged on the individual mandate. “This was their idea, this was a conservative idea,” Boccieri said of the mandate.
“I don’t understand Washington sometimes,” Boccieri said. “It’s the only place where you can propose an idea, introduce it, then campaign against it.”
The fight against Obamacare now has become a rallying point for the Republican Party. Renacci and Sen. Rob Portman, R-Cincinnati, both cited the Supreme Court decision in emails sent Thursday and Friday seeking donations from supporters.
Renacci said the November election will decide the direction the country takes on several issues, including health care reform.
Gibbs noted: “Thursday the Supreme Court spoke. In November the people of the United States will have a chance to speak.”