Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

March 15, 2014

Fact Check: Ad attacking Obamacare changes

“My insurance was canceled because of Obamacare. Now, the out-of-pocket costs are so high, it’s unaffordable.”

— Michigan resident Julia Boonstra, in an ad sponsored by Americans for Prosperity, attacking Rep. Gary Peters, D-Mich., a candidate for the Senate, released in February

“Because of Obamacare, I am now stuck with a plan that doesn’t work for me. My choice was taken away from me.”

— Boonstra, in a new ad released in early March

Take a close look at the subtle difference in the language of these two ads sponsored by the pro-GOP group Americans for Prosperity. The first ad claimed the out-of-pocket costs were so high that “it’s unaffordable.” When that line was questioned — and Democrats demanded proof be given to television stations running the ad — the issue became much fuzzier. Suddenly, it became “a plan that doesn’t work for me.” That is much more subjective and harder to fact check.

We originally awarded the Boonstra ad Two Pinocchios, pending new information. We are now ready to update the ruling, having given AFP ample time to document its claims.

The facts

The problem with the original ad was two-fold. First, Boonstra, a cancer patient, suggested she had lost her “wonderful doctor” when in fact she could keep that doctor in the new plan. Second, her premiums were cut in half, from $1,100 a month to $571, and the savings were slightly more than the out-of-pocket costs permitted under the health care law. So it seemed highly suspicious that the costs were “unaffordable.”

We were led to believe that she had a Silver individual plan through Blue Cross Blue Shield but were not able to determine her actual plan, as AFP declined to document her claim. Instead, it merely asserted that her costs may be unpredictable in the future.

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