Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler gave President Biden “four Pinocchios” for what he described as a “nonsensical” claim about Alzheimer’s patients filling hospital beds in the not-too-distant future.
Last Thursday, Biden had sounded the alarm about Alzheimer’s disease during a speech on the economy.
“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,” Biden told the audience.
The president made similar remarks back in March while touring a cancer hospital in Ohio.
“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,” Biden warned at the time.
On Thursday, Kessler posed the question, “Is there any evidence that Biden’s claim is correct?”
“Normally when a politician makes a detailed claim like this, we can quickly find a possible source—a report in an academic journal or from a think tank, a congressional hearing or an expert’s speech—from which the factoid was plucked (and possibly twisted),” Kessler wrote. “But we could not find anything. We consulted with many experts on Alzheimer’s disease, but they were stumped, too. This seems to be a Biden original.”
The fact-checker noted how Alzheimer’s patients “spend time in hospital beds” but they “end up” in nursing homes and later hospice. He also highlighted the increase in the disease as the “baby boom generation” continues to age.
“More than 6 million people are living with Alzheimer’s today, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, a number that will grow to 11.2 million by 2040. The Milken Institute says the number of people reporting they have dementia will be nearly 13 million by 2040,” Kessler explained.
“Meanwhile, the Alzheimer’s Association calculates that there are 538 hospital stays per 1,000 Medicare beneficiaries age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s or other dementias…. When you plug the figure of 538 hospital stays per 1,000 people into a total of 13 million patients, you end up with 7 million hospital stays a year attributed to dementia. Given that there are about 36 million hospital stays a year currently—the American Hospital Association says there are no projections for 2040—it is clear that Biden’s statistic is falling short.”
Kessler continued, “Biden wants to show that he considers combating Alzheimer’s and other diseases to be an important priority. That’s 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 president earns Four Pinocchios.”
This marks Biden’s fifth “Four Pinocchios” rating from the Washington Post fact-checker since taking office, three of which were falsehoods the president repeated about Georgia’s election laws.
Kessler previously announced that he would discontinue the Post’s database of Biden’s falsehoods beyond his first 100 days in office.