Now that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is being implemented, leave it to right wing extremists, such as those in Americans for Prosperity (AFP), a Tea Party group bankrolled by billionaires Charles and David Koch, to spread lies about its effects with fake horror stories.
As an example, here in Michigan, AFP spent more than $2 million on a dishonest TV ad targeting U.S. Rep. Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Township), the Democratic Senate candidate, for voting in favor of the ACA.
In this ad, Dexter resident Julia Boonstra said, “I was diagnosed with leukemia. I found out I only have a 20 percent chance of surviving. I found this wonderful doctor and a great health care plan. I was doing fairly well fighting the cancer, fighting the leukemia, and then I received a letter. My insurance was canceled because of Obamacare. Now, the out-of-pocket costs are so high, it’s unaffordable. If I do not receive my medication, I will die. I believed the president. I believed I could keep my health insurance plan. I feel lied to. It’s heartbreaking for me. Congressman Peters, your decision to vote for Obamacare jeopardized my health.”
But Boonstra lied. While the ad implied she lost access to her doctor, under the ACA, she found a new Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan plan that enabled her to keep her doctor. Boonstra’s claim that out-of-pocket costs have made her fight against leukemia unaffordable was a blatant lie. Her out-of pocket health care costs, including medications, are capped at $6,350 a year. Her premium was cut under the new plan from $1,100 to $571 a month, a savings of $6,348 a year, just $2 less than the out-of-pocket maximum, with drugs fully covered beyond this amount. She would therefore come out ahead if her medical expenses exceeded the cap.
When confronted with the truth, Boonstra responded dishonestly by playing the victim. "They're not scaring me,” she said. “Cancer scares me. I battle cancer every day. They're not going to intimidate me." Here Boonstra displayed the bizarre, disconnected and downright insane attitude of someone who puts ideology ahead of their own self-interest.
If the Koch brothers and their fellow right wing Republicans succeeded in their goal of repealing the ACA, Boonstra would really become a victim, for they would throw her to the wolves after using her. The consumer protections she now has under this law, such as never being kicked off her health insurance plan, never worrying about health coverage because of her leukemia, having her annual out-of-pocket expenses limited, and never worrying about reaching an annual or lifetime cap where her coverage is cut off, would be gone.
Peters hasn’t taken this dishonest attack ad lying down. He’s gone on the offensive, affirming his support for the ACA and going after his Republican opponent, former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, for supporting ACA repeal and opposing Medicaid expansion, which was pushed through the Legislature by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder.
“The Medicaid expansion is going to help well over 400,000 people here, while the Koch brothers’ agenda is to stop these folks from getting health care,” said Peters. “On this issue, you have to make a choice. Terri Land’s support comes from the far right and the Tea Party. Her strident stand that we must repeal the ACA alone would mean hundreds of thousands would no longer have access to critical coverage.
“But the ACA takes us in the direction we need to go,” he said. “It’s a core belief of mine that everybody, no matter who you are, should have access to affordable health care.”
Peters wrote to TV stations demanding documentation for the AFP ad and suggested AFP attacks would continue to get an aggressive response. “These ads are coming from out of state billionaires trying to determine our next senator,” he said. “If they put ads on TV, they should have documentation for what they claim.”