The Republican drive to politicize cancer

Updated
 
Candidate Chris Collins (R) rejects cancer data.
Candidate Chris Collins (R) rejects cancer data.
Associated Press

It hasn’t been a great few weeks for Republicans’ approach to cancer. First, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) vetoed a bill approved by her own party on the HPV vaccine, which will have the result of more women with cervical cancer. This came around the same time as Richard Mourdock, the Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Indiana, arguing that employers should be allowed to discriminate against cancer patients – a sentiment endorsed by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.).

Over the weekend, the larger issue worsened when Romney campaign surrogate Carly Fiorina, a breast cancer survivor, told a national television audience the Affordable Care Act would have undermined her treatment. It was a cheap, ugly attack, with no foundation in reality.

This one, however, tops them all.

GOP congressional candidate Chris Collins knows health care is expensive these days, but he argues it’s for good reason: People are no longer dying from deadly forms of cancer.

“People now don’t die from prostate cancer, breast cancer and some of the other things,” he told The Batavian in an interview that was flagged Tuesday by City & State NY. Collins was discussing his desire to repeal Obamacare.

“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,” he continued. “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.”

I see. So, as far as this Republican congressional candidate is concerned, health care reform isn’t that important because prostate cancer and breast cancer deaths effectively don’t exist.

Collins wasn’t kidding.

For the record, whether the right accepts the data or not, nearly 40,000 Americans died of breast cancer in 2011, and in 2012, nearly 30,000 Americans died of prostate cancer.

The American Cancer Society endorsed the Affordable Care Act for a reason.

Back in October, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), at the time a leading Republican presidential candidate, explained in a debate, “I hate cancer.” It was hard to predict at the time that this might become a contentious argument.

The Republican drive to politicize cancer

Updated