By Beth Dalbey
Remember the Michigan cancer patient who claimed in a television ad paid for by the conservative group Americans for Prosperity that Obamacare made her out-of-pocket prescription costs so unaffordable that “I will die”?
As it turns out, Julie Boonstra, 49, of Dexter will actually save more than $1,000 a year under President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, the Detroit News reports.
The emotional ad targeted Democratic Congressman Gary Peters of Bloomfield Township, who currently represents Michigan’s 14th District and is running for an open U.S. Senate seat against Republican Terri Lynn Land.
It’s part of a $30 million ad buy made by Americans for Prosperity, the political action committee backed by billionaires Charles and David Koch, to make Obamacare an issue in competitive Senate races.
After independent fact checkers researched the claims, Boonstra offered some clarification.
She says it’s the Blue Cross Premier Plan Gold health-care plan that she dislikes. It caps out-of-pocket costs at $5,100 a year, which is $1,250 less than the federal law’s maximum of $6,350 a year – and a savings over the old plan that was ended when the ACA took effect.
Her old plan cost $13,200 a year in premiums, excluding the amount she paid for co-pays, prescription drugs and other out-of-pocket expenses. The new plan costs $6,852 a year. With the cap on out-of-pocket costs, the most she will pay for cancer treatment this year is $11,952, the newspaper said.
When Detroit News confronted Boonstra with what fact checkers had learned, she reportedly said their findings “can’t be true.”
“I personally do not believe that,” she said.
She still thinks her new plan is unaffordable because she’ll have to meet her out-of-pocket maximum early into the treatments and some cancer drugs are being covered by a separate prescription policy.
However, Michigan Blue Cross Blue Shield spokesman said “it’s possible, but it’s highly unlikely” that Boonstra will have to meet her out-of-pocket maximum the first month or so that the plan is in effect.
In a recent salvo against the Koch Brothers, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV said the ads attacking Democrats on Obamacare are “untrue,” “absolutely false” and a distraction from the good the law is accomplishing.
“Despite all that good news, there are plenty of horror stories being told,” Reid said on the Senate floor earlier this month, the New York times reports. “All of them are untrue, but they are being told all over America.”
In an interview with The Detroit News, Boonstra said Reid owes her an apology.
“I was completely outraged,” she said.
Americans for Prosperity has issued a new ad, again featuring Boonstra, who asserts that Peters was trying to silence her when his lawyers reminded TV stations running the ad to of their obligation to protect the public from deceptive ads.
Tim Phillips, the super-PAC’s president, said his organization isn’t going to be deterred by Reid’s criticism and stands by the ad.
“We are completely comfortable about the accuracy of every item in our ads,” Phillips told the New York Times, adding that he thinks Reid is trying to start a political dispute to shift attention away from what he called an effective advertising campaign.
In the new ad, Boonstra says that all she wants “is to be listened to.”
“There are thousands of people out there who are hurting because of Obamacare. … Cancer is hard enough. I just want to be happy with my plan and I want that for everybody else who is being hurt by this,” she said, choking back tears. “I am trying to get Washington to listen to us.”
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