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.

  • I just got on-board with the Affordable Health Care Insurance about 10 days ago, and eagerly await my coverage to begin on April 1. I have had no coverage since 2009 and I am going on 64 years old. I have Type 2 diabetes and am starting to have medical problems that need careful monitoring.

    I was happy to put a bumper-sticker on my car that says, “I Love Obamacare!” Yesterday, as I was getting bags out of the trunk of my car at the local grocery store, an elderly man who had seen the sticker said incredulously to me, “You LOVE Obamacare?” I barely had time to nod before he countered, “It’s a disaster! Even Obama says he doesn’t like it!”

    News to me. Probably news to Obama. My coverage is vastly more affordable than I imagined, the coverage is sound, and it will almost certainly save my life many times over. How can you reason with people who swallow any horse manure that obvious propagandists feed them?

  • Rob Ert

    I think that Mark Boonstra should apologize to the citizens of Michigan. This is the very type of behavior that the public has come to expect from the GOP. If Boonstra did apologize, he’d probably come out of a swimming pool dressed like a frogman, wearing a CNN hat!

  • judyms9

    I certainly hope Ms. Boonstra was compensated for her appearance in the ad. If so, her compensation should cover her meds or co-pays. If she wasn’t compensated then she was exploited by the Kochs and the GOP, who are assuring that more and more people will not trust government. They forget that after awhile no one will trust any of them either.

  • Hesiod

    On Daily Kos, I explained how Gary Peters could not only neutralize this attack on him, but turn it back around on Terri Lynn Land.

  • hoipoloi

    I attended one of those town halls last month where T. Walberg trotted out 7 or 8 panelists (including Boonstra), all anti-ACA. Believe it or not, Boonstra sounded the most credible until the skeptic in me started flagging red. All the others came off as “cry-babying” that now with the ACA they will have more work added to their jobs (……hospitals, insurance, small business etc.). This from the bunch that boasts some kind of superior work ethic.
    …..yeah, when it serves.

  • Michiganmitch

    “I personally do not believe that,” Boonstra said. , which is a sad but true commentary about the conservative mind. They know what they know and they become even more entrenched when confronted with contrary evidence.

  • CMH01

    A good commercial for the ACA is having Boonstra sit down with someone who knows about insurance and the ACA (because insurance is confusing), and then record the 5 minutes it takes to make her feel better about her insurance situation.

    If she is worried about the ‘up front’ costs she can always make payment arrangements with any hospital for expenses that are not covered by insurance. They’d be happy to take payments rather than force you into collections.

  • Trublusu

    I thought Julie Boonstra was married to an Appeals Court Judge, appointed by Nerd Snyder in 2012. If that is true, isn’t she covered by the judge’s hospital insurance as his spouse ?????

    • He’s her ex-husband as I said in the piece.

  • thingscanbbetter

    why is the Assessment posted? So what, she co owns a vacant lot valued at $65,000. so $32,500 is hers if she sells and is able to find a buyer. To top it off, both signatures will be required to sell the lot and/or do a lot split. Not sure what that has to do with it.

    • Zoe

      What I don’t understand is how they get a 100% PRE (principal residence exemption) for a vacant lot. That seems frankly fraudulent, unless they’re living on a shack on the property.

      • thingscanbbetter

        Because his PRE is on the parcel that his house is on which is contigious with the vacant parcel

  • Carolyn 4444

    Does anyone know if the Koch brothers slipped her some $$$$ on the side for doing the ad for them? Just asking….

  • artisanr

    There comes a certain point when you shovel facts at someone and they pretend you didn’t, there’s something else going on. I think folks like Julie just don’t like the fact that she owes it to the half-black man in the White House that her coverage is more affordable.

    • SunriseRuby

      I agree that much of the conservatives complaints against the President are fueled by their racism, but I haven’t hear Ms. Boonstra personally express racial animosity. Have you? If not, it’s counter-productive to push that button and unfair to her.

      • artisanr

        I work around enough GOP voters and conservatives that will vote greviously against *every single one of their own interests* because “THOSE people” might be able to live just a tiny bit more comfortably here. I’ve had one tell me that they literally “cannot vote for a black man”. No matter what the other choice was.

        It’s not counter-productive to me to propose a theory that I have very good cause to propose because I actually work with people like Julie (those who you can shovel facts at all day and they don’t much care or listen) all day.

  • kwilson

    I’ve never carried health insurance, so WHATEVER it costs, it’s not going to ‘save me money.’ $571 per month, is approximately 2/3 of what I MAKE a month. There’s no way in hell, I’m buying health insurance, at the expense of paying rent, buying groceries, and paying my utility bills. Obama can just fine my ass, I guess, since I am flatly refusing to comply with this bullshit law.
    Of course, if the idiot Governor of my State hadn’t refused to expand Medicare, I’d qualify for it, and would be in compliance…..but no, I live in Oklahoma, where actual representation by politicians, of the people who elect the politicians, is frowned upon…..

    • SunriseRuby

      These seems like a softball tossed in here to allow someone to demonstrate just how useful to you Obamacare is, so I’m not sure if this is a real comment or not. But, let’s say it is. The beauty of Obamacare is that the cost is pegged to your income so that you can get coverage and still pay rent, buy groceries etc. Your cost will not be $571 a month. The other beauty of it is that you won’t face bankruptcy when you do eventually get sick or injured.

    • cjmmjc

      Great, so when you do something stupid like hitting your hand with a hammer, or getting kicked by a mule. then you can take your behind to the emergency room and they can check your credit card balance BEFORE they treat you….
      No no no… no free lunch here, you dont have the money, you gotta pay CASH on the barrel head. I dont want YOU making my premiums go up, I want you to pay, for your services rendered to you
      Oh you dont make that much, then you should get a better job, or to quote the republicans, stop being so lazy and poor and get a better job. Your inability to pay should = the hospitals inability to treat.

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  • Susan

    I don’t get why the Dems don’t counter these falsehoods more aggressively and publicize all the positive stories.

    • ghhshirley

      They try, but it is quite difficult since mainstream media is corporate owned.

    • KarenJ

      I’ve seen remarks on comment sections of blogs like this one from right-wingers who admit their only sources of information are, World Net Daily, The Daily Caller, and Fox News — they only come to progressive blogs to litter the comment sections with non sequiturs, talking points, and anti-Obama hate.

      They admit they don’t listen to POTUS’ weekly addresses, any of his press conferences, and any of his on-the-road speeches. They routinely jeer at Dem pols holding pressers. So it stands to reason that they don’t listen to any left-leaning experts that appear on MSNBC. Or if they do, they merely point out where the talking points they’ve memorized “debunk” the experts.

  • BillC

    I simply found the ad annoying. First time I ever saw it pop up I thought – look some inspirational, wait not, political crap ad that is probably false. Look, I’m a free agent, if you talk enough sense, I’m in. Unfortunately I like to fact check and I’m also a skeptic about ANY political ad. Both sides play a similar game, although some seem to be doing it a lot more.
    This ad just irks me. She’s a bonehead and annoying and I’m tired of people whining about ACA before it even gets a chance to work or fail. The bottom line is there are a LOT of people this will help. I’m sure there are plenty of break even folks who are going to have to endure some form of change and they won’t see that as a win. Some folks may even take a step backwards in this process, but should you toss out the folks like the commenter Michael who said he now has coverage and
    needs it just so that a few people won’t be inconvenienced or maybe pay a little more? Or may pay LESS but want to whine about it because it’s not what they picked.
    you know why she doesn’t like it? Because when her $1100 was taken away from her she had no choice but to pour it into her insurance plan. When less is forcibly removed she actually has to manage her money and not spend it on other things. I know for a fact that she could work with medical facilities/Drs to pay things off over the course of a year if all her out of pocket came in the first month.. they offer to do that all the time and they’re not charging credit card interest either. They’ll just be happy you pay and they don’t have to try to collect.

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