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Collins: People Don’t Die from Prostate, Breast Cancers Anymore (UPDATED)

Filed under: Local Politics

On June 24th, The Batavian published an interview with Republican nominee Chris Collins (R-Spaulding Lake).  Among the topics discussed was Obamacare, which Collins, “clearly dislikes”. 

The healthcare reforms Collins said he would push would be tort reform and open up competition in insurance by allowing policies across state lines.

Collins also argued that modern healthcare is expensive for a reason.

People now don’t die from prostate cancer, breast cancer and some of the other things,” Collins said. “The fact of the matter is, our healthcare today is so much better,  we’re living so much longer, because of innovations in drug development, surgical procedures, stents, implantable cardiac defibrillators, neural stimulators — they didn’t exist 10 years ago. The increase in cost is not because doctors are making a lot more money. It’s what you can get for healthcare, extending your life and curing diseases.” [Emphasis added].

So, if you know someone who has recently died from prostate or breast cancer, that’s a lie.  Put away your pink ribbons, Komen! No need to raise awareness of the importance of PSA screenings, fellas! People just don’t die from these anymore, says a purportedly serious person with no medical training whatsoever, who is running for federal office!

Also, the implantable cardiac defibrillator and neural stimulators, or TENS devices, were both invented and patented in the late 60s or early 70s; therefore, they existed “10 years ago”. 

GLOW-area Democratic activist Adama Brown already did the research, so I’ll quote his results

National Cancer Institute figures show a very different story: Breast cancer kills about 40,000 women a year in the US. Prostate cancer kills about 30,000 men. Five year mortality rates are 23% for breast cancer, 26% for prostate cancer. Only colorectal cancer and lung cancer kill more Americans.

That means that if you get one of these two cancers, even with complete modern medical treatment, drugs, therapies, etcetera, your average odds of being dead within five years after diagnosis are about one in four.

That’s a higher chance of death than you would have with an average gunshot wound–only 22% of gunshot wounds are fatal. And a gunshot can’t come out of remission and kill you years later even if you survive the first time.

Asserting that the 70,000 people per year who die from breast and prostate cancers, “now don’t die” isn’t the only blatantly misinformed lie that Collins passed off as “fact”. 

What Obamacare does is produce $500 billion in savings over 10 years, and slowing spending is something Republicans are supposed to favor. Collins is lying because he thinks you’re stupid.  He’s lying because he’s parroting talking points from right-wing lobbyist groups with whom he hopes to do business

He said Obama wants to cut $500 billion from Medicare, which, he said, would decimate Medicare Advantage.

Also, he said, Obama would trim $350 million from reimbursements to doctors, which Collins believes will encourage doctors to stop seeing Medicare patients.

“They don’t have to take Medicare patients. So in the supply-and-demand world, if you’re busy what do you do? You usually elminate your least profitable customer,” Collins said. “So the thought that the federal government can set the reimbursement rates for doctors and cut 30 percent out their income and nothing’s going to change is just nonsense. Right there and then you’ve got to get rid of Obamacare.”

First of all, Obamacare doesn’t “cut $500 billion from Medicare”, an assertion Politifact has called, “mostly false”.  What Obamacare does is slow the growth of Medicare spending by $500 billion over 10 years – Medicare spending will continue to grow during that period. It also closes the “donut hole” for prescription medication coverage, and places a greater emphasis on proactive preventative treatment.  The rest of it is just Heritage Foundation fearmongering, most of which has already been judged “pants on fire”, designed to scare seniors into supporting Collins and the Republican plan to voucherize Medicare. 

Collins wants a flat tax, so that he pays the same rate on millions in income as you do on thousands. It should be noted that Collins hasn’t released his tax returns, and it’s widely speculated that the reason for his reluctance to do so is that he probably makes much of his money through investments, which are taxed at around a 15% rate. 

On trade, Collions wants the U.S. to stand up to China.

“The key words there are China cheats,” Collins said. “They cheat by manipulating their currency, which gives them, I believe, a 30-percent cost advantage over the American manufacturer. They steal our intellectual property.  And they don’t open their own markets to our manufacturers.”

The response, Collins said, is tarriffs until China capitulates and trades as an equal partner with the U.S.

“I believe China needs us more than we need them,” Collins said. “They need our consumers. Quite frankly, we don’t need them.” 

Remember that story about Collins ripping off a bunch of local investors in a neighbor’s invention, and how he illegally held the meeting telling them to go ahead and sue him in the County Executive’s office? They make the Balance Buddy in China

So many lies, all concentrated into one interview in one article. I don’t know how this was overlooked prior to the Republican primary on the 26th, but you can bet it’s going to come up a lot during the general election campaign.  A tip of the hat to Batavia political activist Dan Jones for drawing attention to it. 

UPDATED:  See the press release issued today by Erie County Health CommissionerDr. Gale Burstein,

Also, Kathy Hochul responds: 

STATEMENT FROM CONGRESSWOMAN KATHY HOCHUL ON CHRIS COLLINS’ COMMENTS REGARDING CANCER

 “Chris Collins has demonstrated a stunning lack of sensitivity by saying, ‘people now don’t die from prostate cancer, breast cancer, and some of the other things.’ Tragically, nearly 70,000 people will die this year from these two types of cancer alone.  We can disagree about public policy without making these kinds of outrageous and offensive statements.”


  • http://www.facebook.com/tommunism Tom Dolina

    Collins: “All I can speak of is from personal experience. I haven’t died from cancer. When was the last time you did? All the people I spoken to the 27th district tell me they haven’t died from cancer, either. It’s simple math.  
    In fact, mortality rates from “the other things” have dropped sharply. Many people are now immortal and only the rapture will cause them to leave Earth…”

  • MaxPlanck

    I guess this means I’ll have to cancel my registration for “Drink For The Cure – Beat Prostrate Cancer Pint Slamdown.”

  • BlackRockLifer

    So Collins wants “Tort reform”, lawsuits make up less than 1% of health care costs, good to see he understands where the big dollars are going, he is a true visionary.

    • Mike_Chmiel

      I was just going to make this same point – I am sick of Republicans pointing to tort reform as some sort of cure for rising health care costs.  It proves they either know nothing about health care, or more realistically, have no desire to change anything about it.

  • Colin Eager

    There’s no way that Collins actually believes that people don’t die from these cancers anymore.  It’s simply impossible to believe that he thinks the survival rate for these diseases is 100%.  It’s a gaffe, not a statement of his beliefs.  He undoubtedly has people in his life who have or have had these diseases, just like everyone else.  He obviously intended to say something like “many people don’t die from cancer” and misspoke.  To believe that Collins actually thinks that cancer doesn’t kill people is to go beyond thinking he’s a hack politician or a rich asshole — it’s to claim he’s utterly unhinged and disconnected with reality at a basic level.  Whatever you think of him, that’s not the case.

    • http://www.buffalopundit.com/ Alan Bedenko

      It doesn’t particularly matter whether he believes it or not. 

      What matters is that he’ll SAY that people don’t die from these cancers anymore if it scores, in his mind, a point against Obamacare. 

      • Colin Eager

        I get that he’s saying this stuff in the context of a critique of the health care reforms.  But he’s still not meaning what people are claiming he means.  He wants to say something like “our health care system is so good that diseases like x and y are on their way to being defeated, so why should we change?”  What came out of his mouth was something different, but also something so absurd that it can’t be anything other than a simple misstatement, the kind of gaffe that politicians make all the time.  Only a literal madman would claim “cancer doesn’t kill” as some sort of intentional political strategy.

        It’s nice when a shitbag like Collins gets in trouble, but this stuff is just one more impediment to actual political debate in this country.  The next few news cycles are going to be dominated by discussion of a simple gaffe rather than the issue itself.

      • BlackRockLifer

        Spot on, much as Collins annoys me we have to rise above the knee jerk dishonest tactics that the right has mastered, we are better than that and can win on the issues if we stick to the high ground.

      • EricSaldanha

        Yes, we should give King Collins the benefit of the doubt while he and his minions run around screaming that Hochul and Obama have passed the “biggest tax increase in history” and, also, too…SOCIALISM!!!111!!!

        “Rising above the right-wing tactics” delivered us two terms of George W. Bush. No, thank you.

      • BlackRockLifer

        I am not defending Collins but simply advocating for a more serious debate, there are so many real issues where Collins is on the wrong side.  If we stoop to their level we lose credibility and turn off the independants as well as any Republicans that may be uncomfortable with their party’s turn to the hard right.  Go for the jugular when the facts are clear but let the distortions and outright lies be identified with the right, not us.

      • EricSaldanha

        How, precisely, is this a “distortion” or “outright lie?” The reporter quoted Collins accurately, but now we’re falling all over ourselves imagining what he MEANT to say, instead of focusing on what he ACTUALLY said?

        I’m with Alan – at this point, it matters little to me if Chris Collins actually believes  that no one dies from cancer anymore. The fact that he said and, as of yet, refuses to clarify or amend his original quote speaks volumes about what an out-of-touch, tone-deaf clown he is. That the voters get to see this is a sweet bonus.

        I fail to see how “losing credibility with Republicans that may be uncomfortable with their party’s turn to the hard right”should be of any concern to a Democratic candidate, given that those oh-so-concerned “moderate” Republicans continue to vote for extremists like King Collins.

  • saltecks

    His comments made the  Huffingtonpost.

  • http://twitter.com/Pauldub Pauldub

    I guess he can park in those “Reserved for Chris Collins” spots because, like there’s hardly any handicapped people anymore…

  • mark brudz

    FACT CHECK AND NOT TO MINIMIZE CANCER
    You said
    “Five year mortality rates are 23% for breast cancer, 26% for prostate cancer. Only colorectal cancer and lung cancer kill more Americans.”

    WRONG : Fact 23 per hundred thousand case Die from Breast cancer, and 26 per 1oo,o00 Men from prostae cancer NOT percent, the percentages are listed below:

    http://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/breast.html
    Survival & Stage
    Survival can be calculated by different methods for different purposes. The survival statistics presented here are based on relative survival, which measures the survival of the cancer patients in comparison to the general population to estimate the effect of cancer. The overall 5-year relative survival for 2002-2008 from 18 SEER geographic areas was 89.0%. Five-year relative survival by race was: 90.3% for white women; 77.7% for black women.
    Stage at Diagnosis
    Localized (confined to primary site)
    98.4%
    Regional (spread to regional lymphnodes)
    83.9%
    Distant (cancer has metastasized)
    23.8%
    Unknown (unstaged)
    50.7%
    National Cancer Institute figures show a very different story: Breast cancer kills about 40,000 women a year in the US. Prostate cancer kills about 30,000 men. Five year mortality rates are 23% for breast cancer, 26% for prostate cancer. Only colorectal cancer and lung cancer kill more Americans.
    That means that if you get one of these two cancers, even with complete modern medical treatment, drugs, therapies, etcetera, your average odds of being dead within five years after diagnosis are about one in four.
    That’s a higher chance of death than you would have with an average gunshot wound–only 22% of gunshot wounds are fatal. And a gunshot can’t come out of remission and kill you years later even if you survive the first time.

  • mark brudz

    You my friend are equally as guilty of a context violation