A closer look at ‘Bette in Spokane’ from McMorris Rodgers’ speech


The woman described only as “Bette in Spokane” during a nationally televised address by U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers said Wednesday she had no idea her frustrations over increasing insurance premiums would become part of the Republican attack on health care reform.

Not that Bette Grenier, a critic of the Affordable Care Act, minds that much.

But the “nearly $700 per month” increase in her premium that McMorris Rodgers cited in Tuesday night’s GOP response to the State of the Union address was based on the priciest option, a $1,200-a-month replacement plan that was pitched by Asuris Northwest to Grenier and her husband, Don.

The carrier also offered a less expensive, $1,052-per-month option in lieu of their soon-to-be-discontinued catastrophic coverage plan. And, Grenier acknowledged the couple probably could have shaved another $100 a month off the replacement policy costs by buying them from the state’s online Health Plan Finder website, but they chose to avoid it.

The description of Grenier’s plight, along with the fact that McMorris Rodgers used only the woman’s first name in the televised address, sparked speculation that the figures may not hold up to scrutiny.

In Olympia, state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler didn’t dismiss the possibility but was skeptical that someone would have no choice but to pay $700 per month more for a policy that meets the Affordable Care Act’s coverage requirements.

Kreidler, interviewed before Grenier’s identity had been learned, said he hoped “Bette in Spokane” would contact his office so he could ensure she’s aware of all options.

McMorris Rodgers’ office provided no explanation Wednesday on what steps were taken to verify the figures.

Melanie Colette, McMorris Rodgers’ spokeswoman, would only say Bette is “one of hundreds of people in Eastern Washington that have contacted the congresswoman with their concerns about the president’s health care law.”

Grenier, contacted Wednesday evening at her home in the Chattaroy area, said she didn’t know McMorris Rodgers had mentioned her insurance travails during the GOP rebuttal.

“That probably was me she was referring to,” said Grenier, 58. “A guy from her office called me last week but I never called him back.”

She said she contacted the congresswoman late last year to complain after getting a letter from Asuris Northwest advising that her $552-a-month policy no longer would be offered. She sent the congresswoman’s office a copy of the letter, which included the rate quotes for the suggested replacement policies.

Fed up with what they considered limited, pricey choices, she said she and her husband, who own a roofing company, have decided to go without coverage.

“I know some people seem to be getting good deals, but we’re not,” Grenier said. “I have a friend – she and I fight about this stuff all the time – and she got a great deal: $129 a month.”

Kreidler acknowledged his office, too, has been getting a lot of complaints from people who had health care plans that did not meet the minimum requirements of the new law. They received notices late last year from their companies saying those policies were being canceled and suggesting a new plan. Most paid the same or less, but some paid more.

“Most of those paid more because it was better coverage,” he said.



Iopine says...

Maybe some of these "Journalists" should critique the SOTU and see how many "Pinocchio's" they get? Come on U-B - let's get some fair and balance here for a change.

Posted 30 January 2014, 10:02 a.m. Suggest removal

downhillracer says...

You are so tightly-wound in your ridiculous partisan bigotry, you fail to understand that, for example, Pulitzer Prize winning Politifact has done an extensive analysis on the speech. I understand your unwillingness to evaluate actual facts, as they may cause your head to explode.


Posted 30 January 2014, 4:05 p.m. Suggest removal

Iopine says...

Posted 30 January 2014, 4:33 p.m. Suggest removal

downhillracer says...

Aaaand, the difference between the two: Politifact actually sources the data used in their analysis. Such a slow learner..

Posted 30 January 2014, 5:18 p.m. Suggest removal

Iopine says...

downhillracer - you have become known as the KaKapo of the U-B Opinion Page.

Posted 31 January 2014, 9:08 a.m. Suggest removal

downhillracer says...

Better than being known as the Village Idiot of the entire city of Walla Walla. What a myopic, backwards fool.

Posted 2 February 2014, 1:49 a.m. Suggest removal

MyFamNews says...

namvet; I notice that you don't dispute anything in this editorial. Your only comment is that the SOTU was obviously, in your opinion, full of lies.

Posted 1 February 2014, 8:12 a.m. Suggest removal

Iopine says...

MyFamNews - You said it, I did not. We don't agree very often so I'm obligated to agree with you.

Posted 1 February 2014, 11:10 a.m. Suggest removal

chicoli says...

Namvet, did you say "Come on UB" ?...You ment to say "Spokesman Review...or the WSJ...or the Washington Post...or the Seattle Times...or the NYT...etc! Well, you get the jist...God, I hope!

Posted 1 February 2014, 10:53 a.m. Suggest removal

Iopine says...

paco1234 - Where did you read this editorial - in the U-B? So the U-B has picked the editorials to run. So paco stick to your inability to comprehend what is being discussed.

Posted 1 February 2014, 11:13 a.m. Suggest removal

chicoli says...

You're the one who mentioned those journalist as pinocchios...and you want the UB to take the blame? You did not get the point that many reputable newspapers discredit GOP phony testimonials which are concocted just for the purpose of misinforming the American people about the ACA.

Posted 1 February 2014, 1:43 p.m. Suggest removal

Iopine says...

Read the last sentence of my last post. Then read my very first post and do you read anywhere that I stated a particular journalist. This paper prints multiple different pieces and I was speaking of a little change of rhetoric. Speaking of misinformed, phony editorials are usually concocted from the Progressive Liberal editorials and websites. Your getting to sound like Al (misinformed) Sharpton.

Posted 1 February 2014, 4:03 p.m. Suggest removal

chicoli says...

You're getting to sound like Loui Gomert...

Posted 1 February 2014, 6:11 p.m. Suggest removal

Iopine says...

Have something to read for your infamous group:


Posted 1 February 2014, 4:26 p.m. Suggest removal

chicoli says...

Sorry, I don't read cheap porn. One of this days you're going to have the WWPD knocking at your door, namvet!

Posted 1 February 2014, 6:15 p.m. Suggest removal

Iopine says...

So a group of blacks voicing their concerns about the economy is porn? What kind of a whiney narcissist are you?

Posted 2 February 2014, 8:37 a.m. Suggest removal

Iopine says...

Hey Paco - still waiting for clarification or maybe your still trying to contact the WWPD to explain why your racist?

Posted 4 February 2014, 8:40 a.m. Suggest removal

thrifty says...

It is interesting to hear how defenders of affordable health care go about their work. I think that this piece of legislation is the biggest piece of ill conceived crap to be passed by any party in congress for quite some time. For the GOP this just keeps on giving.

Posted 30 January 2014, 5:13 p.m. Suggest removal

chicoli says...

My sister who has lung cancer lost her insurance due to her pre-existing condition, now has full ACA coverage. She is now able to keep her house, able to pay her bills on time and able to face her future with dignity. I find it disgusting that someone, without even a primitive argument to the contrary, categorizes the ACA as a "piece of crap". The GOP and their subjects ought to be relentlessly challenged to come up with better ideas, rather than constantly being a pest of hurdles just for the crap of it.

Posted 1 February 2014, 10:47 a.m. Suggest removal

thrifty says...

I can name several that I know who had insurance they liked and could afford but lost it because of the specific requirements in the new legislation. Many are now faced with insurance options that cost more than they can afford. It isn't unrealistic to say that the legislation caused most who had their own insurance to lose it while many that didn't have insurance will be able to get it but most all of us will be subsidizing their plans.

There are a number of new taxes that come with the legislation and apparently most of the younger crowd that don't need insurance will pay the fine (aka tax) and go without. This ultimately will cause all premiums to be higher.

We can all list personal experiences but what should be considered is what is best for the country and I think the answer is known. I'm truly sorry that your sister has lung cancer but ultimately we are all going to be paying for her treatment with or without ObamaCare.

Posted 2 February 2014, 8:37 a.m. Suggest removal

chicoli says...

Thrifty, your turn will arrive sooner or later. We will be glad to pay for your treatment as well!

Posted 4 February 2014, 9:24 p.m. Suggest removal

PearlY says...

I just can't stand it when some politician tells me I should be grateful that my premium has sky-rocketed because my coverage is "better". Lobster may be "better" than chicken, but it should be my choice which I buy for my dinner and if chicken fits my budget better, then it IS better.

The coverage I lost was better by MY standards, and it is MY money and MY health and MY life, not Kreidler's. The extras now included in my plan are not worth anywhere near the added costs. And I don't appreciate being told that the solution to this abuse is that I should go on welfare and pass along the costs of my insurance to my neighbors through the exchange.

You people who think it was necessary to destroy the budgets and insurance choices and meddle in the lives of 100% of the people in this country in order to fix a problem that affected 10% might give some thought to the principle you espouse:

Are you also OK with a takeover of the grocery industry because some people go hungry or are obese? Do you really want to be forced to pay for lobster when you've been fine with chicken all your life, just because a politician or bureaucrat decides it's "better" for you?

Why not the entertainment industry? Is it "fair" that so few can afford to go to the Super Bowl or attend Seattle Opera's Ring Cycle? Wouldn't it be "better" if the government decided on our entertainment so that none of us keep on making "inadequate" or unfair choices? Maybe I'd be forced to attend the Super Bowl, or you'd be forced to attend the Opera. Because what do we know about our own tastes or needs, after all, when Obama and the Democrats are so all-knowing and all-seeing. Why should we incompetents even be allowed to vote? One shouldn't get to vote for a parent or a deity.

Posted 1 February 2014, 7:31 p.m. Suggest removal

chicoli says...

Well, it's all about Pearl...and Pearl will argue any subject from her querulous, anankastic point of view to the end of infinity!

Posted 4 February 2014, 9:40 p.m. Suggest removal

PearlY says...

Yes, Paco, my insurance SHOULD be about me. Your insurance and your sister's should be about you and about her, respectively. If your sister is unable to pay for her own treatment (and her brother won't help her out), then we should have and do have a safety net to provide her charity, but her need should not be an excuse to meddle in everyone else's decisions about their own health care and how to pay for it.

I'm sorry for her illness, but grateful that the "horrible" American health care system has considerably increased the survival rates for lung cancers and, unlike "single payer" aka socialized systems, is far more likely to get her treatment in time to do her some good. My own sister's lung cancer was surgically treated (successfully, with 17 years of survival and counting) only 12 days after the initial X-ray showing a spot on her lung. Check the stats on socialized systems and you will find it is typically MONTHS before treatment can be obtained, with the inevitable higher mortality rates. Yet that is the system you would prefer, I suspect.

And, by the way, my sister had no trouble keeping her individual health insurance plan after that and even after a different cancer, also successfully treated.

I wish your sister the best of luck.

Posted 7 February 2014, 6 p.m. Suggest removal

chicoli says...

As I said, my sister lost her medical insurance due to having a pre existing condition. As you well know dropping your insurance due to pre existing condition was a policy well favored, and supported by all previous conservative administrations in their efforts to protect the private health insurance BUSINESSES.

Your sister, like many of us, is fortunate enough to have good, private medical insurance, or had plenty of money to pay privately.

The idea of having and affordable care option is to be able to bring the "wonderful" American health care system to millions of Americans the dignity of decent care without loosing their houses or their retirement funds. Those Americans are, after all, our brothers and sisters!

By the way, based on the World Health Organization our American health care system is far from the best as per universal statistical parameters, including mortality rate for different ages and disease models. Our system have to entertain the enormous cost to pay benefits to shareholders of privatized, corporate medical complex. Like any privileged individual, if you can afford a full covered insurance you get the best care money can buy. But if you cannot, you're dead sooner rather than later...literally!

Posted 8 February 2014, 9:44 a.m. Suggest removal

PearlY says...

If your sister lost her medical insurance "due to having a pre-existing condition", that must have happened quite a number of years ago. Policies have been guaranteed renewable nationally since 2005, and in this state for several years before that. And it is absolutely false that "all previous conservative administrations" favored dropping insurance due to pre-existing conditions.

The law that provided this guaranteed renewability was passed with more Republican votes than Democratic in the House, and by a vote of 100-0 in the Senate.

Posted 8 February 2014, 6:12 p.m. Suggest removal

chicoli says...

It was passed under a Democratic Administration, though!

Posted 8 February 2014, 6:43 p.m. Suggest removal

PearlY says...

So was welfare reform; that didn't make it a Democratic initiative.

Posted 9 February 2014, 9:54 a.m. Suggest removal

barracuda says...

Careful PearlY......

Posted 9 February 2014, 1:08 p.m. Suggest removal

GeneandCassie says...

Acronym SOTU???

Is this translated as 'Strumming On The Ukelele???'

Posted 2 February 2014, 2:58 p.m. Suggest removal

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