03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Grassley: 'I Don't Think' Coburn's Right To Say Seniors Will 'Die Sooner'

There is, at long last, some disagreement within the GOP over whether Democratic-authored health care reform will expedite the death of senior citizens.

Days after Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okl.) declared that the cuts to Medicare being proposed in the Senate's health care package would cause the elderly to "die sooner," his colleague, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), disagreed.

"I don't think so," the Iowa Republican said in a little-reported-on conference call with local reporters on Wednesday.

The pushback contained a qualifier, however, with Grassley sanctioning Coburn's remark because, as he put it, Democrats were fabricating charges as well.

"I think it's OK for him to make that statement because on the other side of the aisle, people are making statements that people don't have health insurance," the Senator said. "Or, they're making statements that there's 14,000 people every day losing health insurance. And you multiply that between now and 2014, when this bill goes in effect, and you've got more people than even live in the United States losing their health insurance."

Except those statements by Democrats appear to be correct. PolitiFact.com looked into the matter, and concluded that research done by Urban Institute health care scholar John Holahan looked sound. Holahan actually pegged the number of individuals losing their employment-based insurance from November 2008 to June 2009 at roughly 15,200 per day. So, although Politifact noted that the extension of COBRA coverage under the president's stimulus package might reduce those numbers, the Democrats could actually be underestimating the severity of the problem.