Another bogus Obamacare story: The GOP’s ‘Bette’

Another bogus Obamacare yarn: Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), delivers the GOP response to the State of the Union address.
(Susan Walsh / Associated Press)

The centerpiece of the Republican party’s attack on the Affordable Care Act following President Obama’s State of the Union address this week was the story of “Bette.”

Bette was an otherwise unidentified Washington state resident featured in the official GOP response to the Obama speech delivered by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.). According to Rodgers, Bette had written her a letter stating that she had “hoped the president’s healthcare law would save her money – but found out instead that her premiums were going up nearly $700 a month.” The lesson, according to Rodgers: “This law is not working.”

Bette has now been tracked down by her hometown Spokane Spokesman-Review. She’s Bette Grenier, who owns a small business with her husband. Unsurprisingly, her story is much different from the sketchy description provided by Rodgers. That description perplexed experts, including Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, who couldn’t understand how a state resident “would have no choice but to pay $700 per month more for a policy that meets the Affordable Care Act’s coverage requirements,” the newspaper reported.

Grenier told the newspaper that she wrote Rodgers after her insurance company informed her that her $552-a-month catastrophic health plan would not be offered in 2014. It offered her an alternative plan complying with the ACA at $1,052 a month.

But that sounds like her insurer trying to steer her to an overpriced option. A compliant plan meeting the Affordable Care Act’s coverage mandates actually is available from Washington’s insurance exchange for much less -- and with a deductible far lower than the $10,000 she was paying under the old plan and broader coverage, though lacking a provision for four free doctor visits a year provided by her old plan.


Grenier said she had flatly refused to even investigate her options on the exchange. “I wouldn’t go on that Obama website at all,” she said. “We liked our old plan. It worked for us, but they can’t offer it anymore.”

Instead, she and her husband “have decided to go without coverage,” the newspaper reported.

Does this make sense? Grenier deliberately decided to forgo the options available to her and her family from the Affordable Care Act, despite the knowledge that they might be more suitable for her than her old insurance or the plan being hawked by her insurer -- she says a friend of hers found a plan for a mere $129 a month.

But her plight has nothing to do with Obamacare. It’s a product of her own apparently flawed decision to refuse even to look into the benefits the healthcare law might provide. And it’s another sign of how threadbare the GOP criticism of the Affordable Care Act has become. If this is the best they can conjure up for what might be one of the best-watched TV appearances a back-bench Republican congresswoman gets to deliver, shouldn’t they give up already?