Julie Boonstra Continues to Play (Ridiculously) Dumb, as Americans for Prosperity Now Concedes She’s Looking a Gift Horse in the Mouth

In post-initial-ad interviews with fact checkers and with her hometown newspaper, [Boonstra] claimed that the problem was the uncertainty now of not knowing month-to-month what her out-of-pocket expenses will be, whereas she had always reached the low monthly out-of-pocket expenses, and budgeted for that amount monthly.

In other words, her entire complaint is that she might spend the additional $550 a month as soon as she gets it, on something unrelated to her medical care, and then her out-of-pocket expenses totaling an annual maximum of her yearly savings of about $500 on her monthly premiums will become unaffordable.

Julie Boonstra’s Follow-Up Ill-Woman-Who-Cries-Wolf AFP Ad Is Here!, me, yesterday

Weirdly, in an article by Cameron Joseph on The Hill blog yesterday and updated today, AFP President Tim Phillips concedes that Boonstra’s real problem is that she can’t do simple math and therefore can’t budget from one month to the next.  Joseph reports:

Americans for Prosperity President Tim Phillips told The Hill in a recent interview that the question of unaffordability didn’t just mean the total yearly costs — that because she’s on a fixed income, higher monthly out-of-pocket costs early in the year before she hits the out-of-pocket cap are financially unstable. But Phillips didn’t argue that the plan itself is more expensive.

“Predictability is crucial for her because she’s on a fixed income with two kids, battling this disease. Her old policy took a higher premium with really no out-of-pocket expenses. Predictable. So the new policy, the premium drops, but the out-of-pocket is dramatically different,” Phillips told The Hill on Friday.

“When you’re on a fixed income, you can’t suddenly go ‘Wow, I’ve got three CAT scans, I’ve got an MRI, I’ve got a new medication at a higher dose I’ve got to take, my out-of-pocket is going to go up $300 or $400 this month, I’ll just put more money in.’ Well, when you’re on a fixed income what happens is you can’t afford it, it’s unaffordable at this point in time,” he continued. “[A yearly cap] doesn’t help you in January, February, March and April. It’s unaffordable. She didn’t say ‘I am going to spend more money during fiscal year 2014 in the end.’ She said it’s so high it’s unaffordable, and it absolutely is because monthly out-of-pocket [spending] spikes and she’s already seen that. And that’s a crucial distinction.”

A yearly cap doesn’t help you in January, February, March and April.  But $550 each month, including in January, February, March and April, in monthly premium reductions–the absolutely predictable amount she saves each month over her monthly premiums last year on her old plan–does help you in January, February, March and April.

Mr. Phillips and Ms. Boonstra, the monthly premium is dramatically different, too. Y’know, a crucial distinction.

The most she can pay this year in premiums and out-of-pocket expenses is exactly $2 more than she paid last year in monthly premiums.  And although her per-month out-of-pocket expenses cap was low under the old plan, it wasn’t zero.  She maxed it out every month, she said, so the amount was predictable–a predictable amount that was more than zero and surely more than $.60.*

“I’ve got an MRI, I’ve got a new medication at a higher dose I’ve got to take, my out-of-pocket is going to go up $300 or $400 this month, and I’m too stupid to realize that I’m now saving $550 every single month, guaranteed, so this extra expense looks to me like it’s unaffordable even though most junior high school kids who passed their last math class could figure that out.”

Yes, and if your out-of-pocket expenses this month are $400, you’re still ahead by $150.

Here’s a suggestion, Ms. Boonstra: Ask your daughter, the one who’s with you in one of the scenes in your latest ad, to help you out with this.  She probably even has a calculator she can show you how to use.

Ms. Boonstra’s fixed monthly income is now $550 more than it was until January, thanks to Obamacare.  Congrats on the pay raise!

Relax, Ms. Boonstra.  Take your daughter out for a pizza tonight to celebrate.  You can afford it.

Assuming that she pays her monthly premiums in the first few days of the month, she’s now saved about $1,650 in premiums.  That should cover her out-of-pocket expenses for the first quarter of 2014.

Joseph goes on to note that Boonstra is quoted in a very recent article in her hometown paper as saying that she has not yet had any medical treatment this year and so doesn’t know what her monthly out-of-pocket expenses are likely to be.  So apparently either she’s just had treatments and may now know what they’ll cost out-of-pocket (apparently, the issue is the cost of medications and maybe lab fees) or Phillips is imagining things.

Joseph also notes that she says in that newspaper interview, “People don’t have that certainty — they don’t have the stability of knowing every month what they’re going to be paying now and it’s the ability to actually have that sum of money to pay.”  You have that sum of money, Ma’am. Unless you spent that extra $1,650 on something unrelated to your healthcare costs.

The Hill article was updated this morning to add Peters’s campaign’s retort to the new ad:

“The claims in AFP’s original ad have been discredited by local and national media, and any charge that our campaign tried to silence her are absolutely inaccurate.  Per standard practice, we asked AFP to provide documentation for claims that AFP paid to air after independent fact checkers said they needed further substantiation.  We remain disappointed that the Koch Brothers are using their billions to prop up Terry Lynn Land and the anti-middle class agenda they both share like opposing the auto rescue that saved millions of jobs,” Peters spokeswoman Haley Morris said.



*Paragraph added after initial posting.