Senate races

Cancer patient fires back at Gary Peters in new Koch brothers ad

The conservative group Americans for Prosperity is firing back against Democratic attacks on its ad featuring a Michigan cancer patient.

{mosads}The group, backed by the billionaire Koch brothers, David and Charles Koch, has brought back leukemia patient Julie Boonstra to respond to questions about the ad’s facts.

“My choice has been taken away from me. All I want is to be listened to. There are thousands of people out there who are hurting because of ObamaCare,” Boonstra says in the ad,which like the first attacks Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) for his support of ObamaCare. “When I heard that that Congressman Peters was going after my credibility it was devastating. I just want Congressman Peters to help me, to listen to me. Instead he is trying to silence me. Cancer is hard enough. I just want to be happy with my plan, and I want it for everyone else out there that’s being hurt by this.”

Peters is facing former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land (R) in a tight race for Senate.

Boonstra says in both ads that she lost her preferred health insurance plan because of ObamaCare. In the first ad, Boonstra seems to imply that the new plan she had to take is “unaffordable,” a claim has been criticized by both Democrats and non-partisan fact-checkers who point out that the plan is likely not more expensive on a yearly basis because of limits under ObamaCare in how high her out-of-pocket costs can be. Peters’s campaign has asked local TV stations for documentation to answer questions raised by the ads, and the ad has caused a stir in the state, a key Senate battleground.

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.”

Boonstra recently told a local paper that said she wasn’t yet sure how much she’ll have to pay in out-of-pocket costs.

“I truly would love to show the public my numbers, but like I said I just don’t have that because I haven’t had those visits,” Boonstra said. “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.”

Peters’s campaign fired back against the latest 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.

This post was last updated at 10:15 a.m.

Tags Americans for Prosperity Gary Peters Michigan
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