September 2, 2015: CNN reports that as many as 300,000 vets have died waiting for treatment at VA hospitals based on a report by the Virginia Inspector General:
(CNN)Hundreds of thousands of veterans listed in the Department of Veterans Affairs enrollment system died before their applications for care were processed, according to a report issued Wednesday.
The VA’s inspector general found that out of about 800,000 records stalled in the agency’s system for managing health care enrollment, there were more than 307,000 records that belonged to veterans who had died months or years in the past. The inspector general said due to limitations in the system’s data, the number of records did not necessarily represent veterans actively seeking enrollment in VA health care.
In a response to a request by the House Committee on Veterans Affairs’ to investigate a whistleblower’s allegations of mismanagement at the VA’s Health Eligibility Center, the inspector general also found VA staffers incorrectly marked unprocessed applications and may have deleted 10,000 or more records in the last five years.
In one case, a veteran who applied for VA care in 1998 was placed in “pending” status for 14 years. Another veteran who passed away in 1988 was found to have an unprocessed record lingering in 2014, the investigation found.
For more than a year, CNN investigated and reported on veterans’ deaths and delays at VA facilities across the country, including detailed investigations in November 2013 and January 2014 examining deaths at two VA facilities in South Carolina and Georgia.
So CNN reported it initially. Using the reports, Carly Fiorina repeats the story.
Carly Fiorina on several occasions has said 307,000 veterans have died while waiting for care from the Veterans Health Administration. In one instance, she said all of those veterans “died in the last year,” citing a recent inspector general’s report. But that’s not what the report says.
The VA Office of the Inspector General report said 307,173 of nearly 867,000 pending VA applications belonged to individuals who died. But poor record-keeping made it impossible to say how many of them died while waiting for care or how many of them even applied for care.
The report also said 84 percent of those who died, or 258,367 individuals, died more than four years ago — not last year.
Fiorina, a Republican candidate for president, has made the VA report a staple of her recent speeches. At the National Federation of Republican Women Convention in Phoenix, Arizona, on Sept. 11, Fiorina said that “just last month, we got a report that 307,000 veterans have died waiting for an appointment.”
Similarly, she told an audience at the Stretch Kennedy annual picnic in New Hampshire on Sept. 12 that “307,000 veterans had died in the last year waiting for health care.”
Fiorina repeated the claim twice during CNN’s prime-time GOP debate on Sept. 16. After the debate, a viewer, and a self-proclaimed veteran, asked us to check Fiorina’s claim.
On Sept. 2, the VA Office of the Inspector General released a report titled “Veterans Health Administration: Review of Alleged Mismanagement at the Health Eligibility Center.” The report addressed four questions about the eligibility center, including an allegation first reported by the Atlanta Journal Constitution last year that more than 47,000 veterans died while their applications were still pending.
Fiorina’s Unsupported Claim about VA Deaths
Donald Trump made campaign statements using the same information. Cue Politifact:
Donald Trump came to the U.S. Navy stronghold of Norfolk on Halloween afternoon to announce his plan to fix the “disaster” at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“The current state of the Department of Veterans Affairs is absolutely unacceptable,” Trump said at a rally in front of the retired battleship USS Wisconsin. “Over 300,000 – and this is hard to believe, and it’s actually much more than that now – over 300,000 veterans died waiting for care.”
We decided to check Trump’s claim, which also has been made by Carly Fiorina, one of his rivals for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.
Now, did either FactCheck.org or Politifact take issue directly with CNN, the source of the information?
Nooooooooo, they waited and then seized upon Fiorina and Trump instead when they repeated the information they read and bashed the GOP candidates instead of the originators of the story.
Let’s rate them.
The results are conclusive