Affordable Care Act, Obamacare — March 11, 2014 at 9:03 am

UPDATEDx2: Koch brothers’ fake “Obamacare victim” Julie Boonstra made to look even more foolish and exploited


“It can’t be true…I personally do not believe that.”

My home town of Dexter has been in the national news a bit lately. It started when Congressman Tim “the Original Tea Partier” Walberg invited a resident of our Stars Hollow-like village, Julie Boonstra, to be his guest at President Obama’s State of the Union address as a “victim of Obamacare”.

From there, she was featured in an anti-Gary Peters ad by the Koch brothers’ front group Americans for Prosperity, an ad that has gotten more attention after being completely debunked than it would have gotten otherwise.

AFP doubled down, running another ad where Boonstra tearfully cries about being “silenced” by Gary Peters who questioned her veracity. Julie Boonstra may be the loudest “silenced” person this country has ever known.

Now Boonstra is making the news again after an excellent bit of journalism by Detroit News reporter Marisa Schultz tears her already debunked story to shreds:

Boonstra said Monday her new plan she dislikes is the Blue Cross Premier Gold health care plan, which caps patient responsibility for out-of-pocket costs at $5,100 a year, lower than the federal law’s maximum of $6,350 a year. It means the new plan will save her at least $1,200 compared with her former insurance plan she preferred that was ended under Obamacare’s coverage requirements.

A Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan spokesman said the insurer welcomes a chance to help members understand their benefits and alleviate concerns.

“We are here to help people like Ms. Boonstra to work their way through adjusting to the health plans we are now offering them,” the Blue’s Andy Hetzel said. “If there are questions … they should call.”

Boonstra’s old plan cost $1,100 a month in premiums or $13,200 a year, she previously told The News. It didn’t include money she spent on co-pays, prescription drugs and other out-of-pocket expenses.

By contrast, the Blues’ plan premium costs $571 a month or $6,852 for the year. Since out-of-pocket costs are capped at $5,100, including deductibles, the maximum Boonstra would pay this year for all of her cancer treatment is $11,952.

When advised of the details of her Blues’ plan, Boonstra said the idea that it would be cheaper “can’t be true.”

“I personally do not believe that,” Boonstra said.

She cannot believe this very likely because she has been fed a pack of lies by groups who want to exploit her, a woman with life-threatening leukemia, to help achieve their crass political goals.

Americans for Prosperity and other conservative groups and individuals have accused Gary Peters, who wrote a letter to television stations playing the offensive ad to either force AFP to prove their claims or pull the ad, of exploiting the poor, innocent cancer patient. The truth of the matter is that Julie Boonstra IS being exploited. She’s being exploited by the Koch brothers and the chances are good she’s being exploited by her ex-husband. Julie Boonstra was once married to Mark Boonstra, a former chair of the Washtenaw County Republican Party. She is the mother of his children and co-owns a vacant lot with Mr. Boonstra’s next door to his Dexter home:

Screen shot from Washtenaw County Property/Parcel Lookup website

The fact is, Julie Boonstra will SAVE MONEY with the new plan that she moved to due to the Affordable Care Act. In fact, she’ll save over $1,200 annually. Her big fear about the “unpredictability” of when the bills will come due is all but laughed at by the insurance company spokesperson interviewed for the Detroit News article. Boonstra is literally complaining that she MIGHT have to pay more per month early in the year even though she’ll pay less over the course of the year. There is no risk whatsoever that she won’t be able to afford her medication which will cause her to die.

Ms. Boonstra claims that Harry Reid and Gary Peters owe her an apology. She certainly is owed an apology, but not from Peters or Reid. She is owed an apology from Charles and David Koch, Americans for Prosperity, Tim Walberg, and very possibly from her ex-husband Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Mark Boonstra. They are the ones exploiting a vulnerable woman with leukemia, making her the laughing stock of the country in the process, not the Democrats trying to make sure EVERYONE has access to affordable health insurance. Just like Julie Boonstra now has.

UPDATE: The Washington Post has downgraded Boonstra’s story from “Two Pinocchios” to “Three Pinocchios”:

[O]ne cannot claim that a plan is “unaffordable” when over the course of the year it will provide you with substantial savings. Thus we are changing the rating on this ad from Two Pinocchios to Three Pinocchios.

I’m not sure why an outright lie doesn’t merit four Pinocchios but this is a start, I suppose…

UPDATE 2: Rick Ungar at Forbes ponders whether or not this ad is a violation of FTC laws:

Under the Federal Trade Communications Act , if an advertisement such as this “is likely to mislead consumers acting reasonably under the circumstances; and is ”material” (that is, important to a consumer’s decision to buy or use the product), particularly when applied to “ads that make claims about health or safety”, that ad is in violation of federal law.

When an organization like AFP can only take on a fight by using outright deception, somebody has to stand up to them. Let’s hope that Congressman Peters is not the only one prepared to do so.