President Joe Biden received The Washington Post’s highest rating for untruth after recent comments about hospital beds and patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
In a “fact check” on Thursday, the Post’s Glenn Kessler noted that Biden made shifting claims about the need to address the degenerative disease. The Post used the word “nonsensical” in its headline to describe the president’s words.
“You know, if we don’t do something about Alzheimer’s in America, every single, solitary hospital bed that exists in America — as the nurses can tell you — every single one will be occupied in the next 15 years with an Alzheimer’s patient — every one,” the president said in May.
That was an even more dire prediction than one Biden made in March, since he’d moved up the doomsday date by five years.
“And I say to the press here, if we don’t do something, for example about Alzheimer’s, every single bed in American hospitals today will be occupied by someone with Alzheimer’s within 20 years, every single bed,” he said.
Kessler called the comment “one of those classic Biden factoids — an assertion with specific numbers that seems to change in each telling.”
In trying to assess the claim the Post said it “consulted with many experts on Alzheimer’s disease, but they were stumped, too. This seems to be a Biden original.”
The Post noted that Biden’s claim overlooked a major issue: “Alzheimer’s patients spend time in hospital beds but that is not where they end up. Hospitalization is often considered harmful and costly for people with dementia, so the less time spent in a hospital, the better.”
When the Post put the data together, it estimated that there could be about 7 million hospital stays a year related to dementia, with hospitals currently logging 36 million stays.
“[I]t is clear that Biden’s statistic is falling short,” the Post wrote.
In an estimate of hospital beds, the Post projected that about 440,000 of America’s 920,000 acute care hospital beds could be taken up by patients suffering from dementia.
Again, that falls short of Biden’s comments.
The Post further noted that if demand increases, supply could increase as well.
“We track total beds throughout the years as part of AHA Statistics but we don’t make projections,” said Marie Johnson, AHA vice president for media relations. “Hospitals and health systems are constantly planning for the future to ensure they meet the needs of patients and communities.”
The Post said Biden’s effort to call attention to Alzheimer’s was “a laudable aspiration”
“But he shouldn’t gild the lily with figures that seem plucked from thin air — which might also explain why they change depending on the day. Contrary to his claim, our calculations show that in 2040 there would still be plenty of hospital beds even with the anticipated increase in patients with Alzheimer’s disease,” the Post concluded.
“The president earns Four Pinocchios.”
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