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Michigan Cancer Patient Who Warned ‘I Will Die’ Because Obamacare in Political Firestorm

Julie Boonstra has found herself in the middle of a war between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the Koch Brothers, whose $30 million ad buy targets Democrats who voted for Obamacare, including Michigan’s Gary Peters.

Julie Boonstra of Dexter appears in a second Koch Brothers-backed ad, this time taking issue with Michigan congressman and Senate hopeful Gary Peters for "trying to silence me." (Screenshot: Americans for Prosperity ad on YouTube)
Julie Boonstra of Dexter appears in a second Koch Brothers-backed ad, this time taking issue with Michigan congressman and Senate hopeful Gary Peters for "trying to silence me." (Screenshot: Americans for Prosperity ad on YouTube)

Remember the Michigan cancer patient who claimed in 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.”


cookiepro2 March 19, 2014 at 12:49 PM
I don't mind paying my taxes, or having my taxes raised (within reason) to help pay for someone else's healthcare, this is similar to the current Medicare tax. But when it is tied into forcing me to buy a particular commodity which turns out to be a bad deal for me, and my payment is going to a non-governmental commercial entity, AND I'm being told this is "Free Market" enjoy it, it is too much BS. At the same time, I don't dismiss the single payer system out of hand in other countries. Maybe we can have something similar (if only for simplicity sake) but improved. I know the justification for our current health care system is it is PROFIT that drives research, new advances and drugs, which I am told apparently would not happen with a socialized medicine system. However, I think there could be balance here...someone with everyday health care needs (e.g., a sore throat examination) should be able to be seen by a medical professional for less than the $200 (provider charge) that I see in my BCN benefits statement. Before ACA, how did we expect the indigent without health care insurance to pay that rate?
cookiepro2 March 19, 2014 at 01:01 PM
I don't mean indigent in my last statement, but anyone in the income range not being able to afford health care insurance but with too high income to qualify for Medicaid...i.e., struggling working families, these are not "takers".
K. Scott March 19, 2014 at 07:25 PM
FCF, if you're unwilling to engage in any meaningful dialog, take your lollipop and go home and wait for November, because liberal this conservative that ,is not a solution, it's the crux of the problem. I remember that rally cry last time and look how well that turned out. Now, how do we fix this mess? Either come to the table with a solution or drop it. Because if we revert back to the old days and ways. Julie up there has a pre existing condition and no insurance company would want to cover her.Remember BCBS is not in it's old form anymore.
Byers-Smith June 26, 2014 at 08:46 AM
It has been six months for Julie's new Marketplace coverage, has anyone checked to see if her predictions came true???? I signed-up for BCBS Gold Multi-state plan and I am getting more coverage for less. Because I had pre-existing conditions, I was unable to change carriers. No other carrier would even give me a quote. Under the Marketplace, for the first time in 11 years, I was able to shop for a new plan. And, if I want to change plans I now have the ability to do so. Before, I had to absorb the 20% to 30% annual increases. Come on Julie.....show us your numbers!
cookiepro2 June 26, 2014 at 12:44 PM
Good to hear that Nancy. I've heard of others who now have health care insurance who previously were shut out due to pre-existing conditions. This was not fair. My opinion is the health care industry was a long-standing train wreck before (remember Hillary as first lady taking up the mission) but now at last we're on the road to reform. I don't like the heaping on the current President all the ills of health care woes in this country before and after ACA. What we have now is doable and actually goes along with the typical conservative thinking of personal responsibility. The burden of paying for health care insurance is shifted more to the individual and less on the employer. The individual needs to piggy bank for that rainy day high deductible. Yet ACA has mandated that screening tests and annual physicals are covered, and not subject to the deductible, so at least people won't be skipping those to save money. Health care is evolving in this country and our lawmakers need to work together for improvement.

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