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The Suburbanite
  • Boccieri continues debate of health care law

  • John Boccieri, who lost his bid for a second term in Congress in November 2010, re-emerged from his life as a private citizen Wednesday to talk about the benefits of the health care overhaul he supported two years before.

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  • On the second anniversary after he cast a crucial vote for the federal Affordable Care Act, former congressman John Boccieri hosted a conference call with reporters Wednesday to discuss the benefits of the controversial law.
    Boccieri, speaking at an event organized by President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, said the act had eliminated lifetime caps on health care coverage, eventually requires insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions, opened access to lifesaving treatments and mammograms for women and prevented children with chronic illnesses from being denied health care coverage.
    “Every single American regardless of the circumstances ... (is) going to have access to affordable and quality health care,” he said.
    SURROGATES
    Boccieri, of Alliance, was accompanied on the call by four people who said that the controversial law has given them peace of mind.
    Elisabeth Dyer of Dayton, who’s had cancer four times, said before 2010, she would have been considered uninsurable. She said the law will ensure she won’t lose her health insurance if her husband is laid off from Kodak, which has filed for bankruptcy. Jeffery Dennis, 21, of Bowling Green, who has had leukemia, said the law’s provision that insurers can’t cut off coverage for the children of people enrolled in their plans until they turn 26 guarantees he’ll have coverage. Paul Gomia of Middletown said he had saved hundreds of dollars a year because the law phases out the gap in Medicare prescription drug coverage.
    UNCONSTITUTIONAL?
    The U.S. Supreme Court is considering whether the mandate is constitutional and could strike down all or part of the law. Oral arguments are scheduled for Wednesday.
    Boccieri said Republicans initially supported the individual mandate before opposing it to weaken the president. He said there has to be such a mandate because “you can’t have an insurance company just insuring people who are sick. That’s not going to work.”
    Boccieri also said that Republicans’ claims that the law has resulted in increases in health care premiums are invalid. He said the premiums have been rising significantly since 2000.
    About two years ago, Boccieri announced his support for the bill outside the Capitol, giving the bill a jolt of momentum. On March 21, the bill passed the U.S. House 219 to 212 and Obama signed it into law two days later.
    Boccieri, who lost his bid for reelection in 2010, is now a flight instructor and lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force.
    OPPOSED
    The office of U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Wadsworth, who favors repealing the law, said in a statement, “The President’s plan was supposed to make health care more affordable for all Americans. It has failed spectacularly.”
    The statement said the Congressional Budget Office estimates that up to 20 million Americans will end up losing their current health care plans and that premiums will rise $2,100 a year. In addition, “the bill cut $500 billion from Medicare.”
    Page 2 of 2 - The office of U.S. Rep. Bob Gibbs, R-Lakeville, who also backs repeal, said, “The reason that John Boccieri is no longer in Congress is because he voted to support Obamacare.”
    It called the law a “costly and dangerous government takeover of health care that will result in lower quality of care, fewer jobs, and higher taxes” that imposes “federal mandates on the states that will take away our flexibility and violate the Constitution.”
    “What part of it would you repeal?” asked Boccieri. “Would you repeal the ban on insurance companies (that they) can’t deny you coverage if you have pre-existing conditions?”