Fact Check: Joe Biden Misleads About Scope of Government-Run Public Option

Democratic Presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the first presidential debate at the Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio on September 29, 2020. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty

CLAIM: Former Vice President Joe Biden claimed during the presidential debate on Tuesday night his public option insurance plan would only be available for Americans that qualify for Medicaid.

Verdict: False. Biden’s public option insurance plan would be available for all Americans alongside traditional health insurance plans.

Debate moderate and Fox News anchor Chris Wallace noted President Donald Trump and other Republicans contend that a public option would eventually eliminate private health insurance and lead to a government-run healthcare system.

Biden disputed that suggestion, claiming his public option plan would only be available for low-income Americans that qualify for Medicaid.

He said:

It does not. It’s only for those people who are so poor they qualify for Medicaid they can get that free in most States, except Governors who want to deny people who are poor Medicaid. Anyone who qualifies for Medicaid would automatically be enrolled in the public option. The vast majority of the American people would still not be in that option.

USTV Pool

However, Biden’s claim does not match his own healthcare plan, which would allow any American, regardless of income, to purchase a public health insurance plan.

Biden’s campaign website reads:

Giving Americans a new choice, a public health insurance option like Medicare. If your insurance company isn’t doing right by you, you should have another, better choice. Whether you’re covered through your employer, buying your insurance on your own, or going without coverage altogether, the Biden Plan will give you the choice to purchase a public health insurance option like Medicare.

Healthcare experts such as Sally Pipes, the president of the Pacific Research Institute, contend that a public insurance option competing alongside private insurance would eventually crowd out private health insurance because government-run insurance could run on a “loss indefinitely.”

This is why Trump charged Biden’s plan would eventually lead to tens of millions of Americans losing their private health insurance under the Biden public option plan.

“The bigger problem that you have is that you’re going to extinguish 180 million people with their private health care that they’re very happy with,” Trump said.

Sean Moran is a congressional reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3

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