Made up or mixed up?
Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday night that Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget would mean 19 million people would be thrown off Medicare.
A lot of big numbers get thrown around in the Medicare debate, but that one doesn’t crop up a lot. Some conservatives said flat out that Biden made it up in the debate with Ryan.
But the Obama campaign says Biden just misspoke. He meant Medicaid, according to campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith.
Biden has said in several other campaign appearances that 19 million would be tossed off Medicaid, which the GOP wants to turn into a block grant to the states. In fact, he’s taken the lead in critiquing the Ryan Medicaid proposal, which he says would slash spending on the poor and hurt people in nursing homes – “your moms and your dads.”
But Medicaid didn’t come up at the debate other than one passing reference to how it purchases drugs.
Conservatives said Biden’s 19 million Medicare comment was … malarkey.
“This is an entirely made-up figure,” Manhattan Institute fellow and health care blogger Avik Roy wrote on National Review’s The Corner. “Not a single person would lose their Medicare coverage under Ryan’s budgets, and not a single person would under Romney’s plan either.”
Even if Biden meant to say Medicaid, it’s not entirely clear where he got the 19 million number and whether it applied to Romney’s campaign proposals or Ryan’s 2011 budget plan.
A May 2011 Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured study said block grants could lead to 19 million more uninsured – although under other scenarios in that same study, the number could rise by as much as 27 million. That was drawing from the 2011 version of Ryan’s budget, which has been modified and which Romney has said won’t be identical to his own spending blueprint.
A Center for Budget and Policy Priorities paper analyzing the Romney-Ryan budget proposals – to the extent the campaign has fleshed them out – estimated that cuts to Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program might mean 14 million to 19 million more uninsured people.
Whatever Biden spoke or misspoke, it didn’t make the Romney campaign’s list of Biden’s “top five lies and exaggerations.” But plenty of other health care claims did.
Read more: POLITICO