Chris Collins is running for Congress in western New York. He is a former county executive for Erie County. Last year, he lost his reelection 54%-46%. Shortly after that, Collins announced that he was running for Congress.
An opponent of Obamacare, Collins has a not-so-novel idea on why health care is so expensive:
“People now don’t die from prostate cancer, breast cancer and some of the other things. The fact of the matter is, our health care 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 health care, extending your life and curing diseases.”
Contrary to Collins’ medical knowledge, plenty of people continue to die from prostate and breast cancer. Both remain two of the ten most frequent cancers. This year, breast cancer will kill 39,510 and prostate cancer 28,170, according to the National Cancer Institute.
It is true that people are living longer and treatments are more expensive. That is beyond the obvious. If his statement is an epiphany, Collins is about the last person in the country to realize this.
No one who has seriously studied the health care mess blames the high cost of health care solely on doctors ripping off their patients with huge fees. With the years that doctors must study and the costs incurred to become a doctor, doctor salaries are not exorbitant. That does not mean some salaries are not going to be trimmed by some health care reform proposals, but most people consider doctors to be fairly paid.
Despite his blatant ignorance about cancer fatalities, Collins’ statement actually supports a broad-based reform of the medical system, not a limited approach as he argues. Collins wants to control costs by letting insurance companies offer policies across state lines by legislating tort reform. Those are not bad ideas, but Collins completely neglected one of the major reasons for health care costs: emergency care for the uninsured. That is the most expensive time to treat a patient. Obamacare addresses that; Collins does not.
Here is just another example of the misdirection being used on important issues. Collins distorts facts on cancer fatalities, injects a little political chicanery by suggesting that doctors are being blamed for high medical costs, and then acts as if no one is aware that the reason medical care is so expensive is that we are living longer because of its successes. This simplicity may explain why Collins was not reelected last year.