John Boccieri of Poland was one of 21 former Democratic House members who wrote President Joe Biden and Democratic leadership in 2010 urging them to “complete the work” on securing the Affordable Care Act under healthcare jobs after losing their seats in 2010 — in part due to their votes in support of the law. 

The letter urges Biden, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to “include provisions in the Build Back Better Act to permanently lock in the most important improvements to the Affordable Care Act.” 

The $3.5 trillion social expenditure reconciliation package is being debated in Congress, with Republicans and Democrats opposing it. According to the letter, fixing the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, includes raising subsidies for private plans and creating a permanent Medicaid jobs program in areas where Republicans have refused to do so. 

Boccieri said Tuesday: “It needs to be strengthened. No bill out of Congress is perfect and there is room for improvements. First and foremost, we need to make permanent that pre-existing conditions remain in the bill because Republicans have tried to repeal this bill without a replacement.” 

Boccieri was elected to a congressional seat in Stark County in 2008 after eight years in the Ohio House and state Senate representing Mahoning County. Democrats lost 63 House seats after the ACA passage in 2010, the highest drop since 1948. Boccieri was one of the defeated incumbent Democrats. 

The vote was part of the reason why I lost in 2010,” Boccieri said. “We could have done a better job explaining the bill to the people. We allowed Republicans to weaponize it with false claims of death panels. Republicans attempt to weaponize and politicize issues that the people support like infrastructure and immigration jobs reform.” 

Boccieri was appointed to an open Ohio House seat in September 2015, was elected in 2016, and decided to run for a state Senate seat in 2018, which he lost to Salem Republican Michael Rulli. Boccieri’s letter to Biden, Pelosi and Schumer was inspired by Baron Hill, an Indiana Democrat who lost his seat in the 2010 election. 

The letter reads: “Losing control of the House to Republicans in 2010 was a terrible setback for our party and our country. We know that the radicalized and Trump-ified Republican Party of today would almost certainly allow the new subsidies and Medicaid policies under the Affordable Care Act to expire if it found itself in power again. Republicans’ past voting record on health care is evidence of that likelihood.” 

It concluded: “Democrats serving in Congress today must not let them have that opportunity. We urge you to heed the lessons of our experience and draw on them to ensure that it was not in vain.”. Boccieri said he also sent a message to Republicans: “Help us strengthen the law and make it better. Let’s work on what we agree on and not what we disagree on.” 

Source: Youngstown Vindicator 

Image Credits: WKBN