DailyKOS: My Prescription for Health Care: Elect a Democratic Congress

DailyKOS: My Prescription for Health Care: Elect a Democratic Congress

During the 6 years they have controlled Congress, Washington Republicans have proven themselves incapable of improving our nation’s health care system. They wouldn’t work with President Obama to fix the ACA, and now they’ve shown they can’t even work with themselves.

Considering their ideas for health care would increase health care costs and cause anywhere between 23 and 32 million people to lose coverage, I’m glad Republicans are failing to put a bill on President Trump’s desk. But as a doctor, a public health leader, and former National Health Officer for YMCA, I also know that we can’t wait much longer to fix the huge gaps in care and out-of-control-costs of America’s health care system.

That’s why I’m running for Congress in Michigan’s Sixth Congressional District: to replace Congressman Fred Upton, the architect of the Republicans’ disastrous health care bill, which passed the House and led to all the drama in the Senate this week.

The Daily Kos community is well aware of how Upton single-handedly brought the Republican health care bill back to life in the House after caving to President Trump on a plan that would charge middle-class families and seniors more money for less care.

Imagine putting a member of Congress in Upton’s place who has dedicated their entire career to building coalitions to make healthier choices easier, and creating and running large and effective community health programs that have improved the lives of millions of children, families and seniors.

Join me to bring progressive change to Southwest Michigan and Congress

I’m proud to have served as the first physician leader in the Y’s 170-year history, and ran community health programs to improve health, lower costs and create jobs. One of these programs reduced new cases of diabetes by up to 71%, and will save Medicare at least $1.9 billion over 10 years by employing thousands of community health workers to help their neighbors live healthier lives. My team and I supported local community work in 250 other cities across the nation, positively impacting 73 million people. Earlier in my career, I led an innovative coalition in Chicago, which helped inform our former First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign.

It’s critical that we have a Democratic Congress to ensure efforts to fix health care are transparent and in our best interests.  We must make sure the plans of President Trump and Republicans never become a reality as they will force middle class families to pay more for less care, cause millions with pre-existing conditions to lose coverage and gut long-term care for seniors.

Rural communities are most at risk from what we’ve seen come out of the House. Republican health care plans to cut Medicaid will force the closure of many local hospitals and clinics, which are often the largest employers in small towns. That would be a double whammy for rural America: a dramatic loss of health care and jobs.

Today, more than ever, voters also need to hear our vision to improve health care. I think progressive policy solutions like opening up Medicare to people under 65, which would give everyone access to an affordable, high-quality health care system is something we should pursue.  But we can do more to increase access to high-quality and affordable health care, by further expanding coverage, focusing on preventing disease and reducing costs through the kind of community health programs that I helped pioneer.  We must also allow Medicare to negotiate with drug companies for better prices, and continue the transformation of our health care system from one that pays for volume to one that pays for value.

Most importantly, we must take a broader view than just fighting disease. Health care is a human right. Trends in health care spending will not change overnight, no matter what policy prescription is being delivered. So, a long-view is needed. Epidemics of chronic disease are driving increases in health care spending, and we’ll be paying for the epidemics of today for a generation to come.

I’ve learned that to truly be successful, we need confront the spread of these conditions by helping people have a high quality of life, which means ensuring a safe and healthy environment, a good education and the opportunity for jobs that pay a living wage in addition to ensuring access to quality health care.

I will take this same comprehensive approach to Congress, where I will fight for a smarter health care policy, clean air and water, strong schools, early childhood education, vocational training, community colleges, opportunities to reduce student debt through community service, and a consistent focus on creating good-paying jobs.

During last year’s campaign, Republicans promised to deliver better care for a lower cost. So far, their plans would do the opposite, but I’ll work with anyone who truly wants to reach that goal. The pressure from the grassroots protests and town halls has forced many Republicans to reconsider towing the party line. Unfortunately, my Congressman Fred Upton isn’t one of them. He’s enabled Republican leaders to push through their harmful agenda. In Congress, I’ll do the opposite by standing up for patients and offering common-sense solutions based on my experience as a doctor and public health leader.

This won’t be an easy campaign. Congressman Upton has collected more than $13 million in campaign cash from special interests, including $3 million from the health care industry over his career.  I will need the support of grassroots donors and the Daily Kos community to fight back against millions of dollars in false attack ads funded by Upton’s special interest donors.

But Democrats are more energized than ever and Washington politicians like Fred Upton are on the ropes. If Southwest Michigan wants change next November, there couldn’t be a clearer contrast between me and Fred Upton, who represents everything that’s wrong with Congress.

Sign up on my website today to flip the House in 2018

I look forward to answering your questions today and hope you will join my campaign. Thank you for all that you do.

Holland Sentinel: Portage physician joins Democrats running for Upton’s seat

Holland Sentinel: Portage physician joins Democrats running for Upton’s seat

Dr. Matt Longjohn announced his candidacy last week.

A fifth Democrat has announced his challenge of Rep. Fred Upton to lead Michigan’s 6th congressional district.

Dr. Matt Longjohn, a Portage physician and former National Health Officer for the YMCA announced his candidacy July 18 for a district that tends to lean Republican. Upton, R-St. Joseph, has held his seat since 1986.

Longjohn, 46, said he decided to run after Upton negotiated an amendment in exchange for his support of the House Republican-backed healthcare bill. Upton supported the bill after House leadership agreed to his amendment to make $8 billion available to assist those with pre-existing conditions, which sparked public demonstrations outside his Kalamazoo and St. Joseph offices.

Having spent his career “improving health and quality of life of people around the country,” Longjohn said he sees his candidacy as a continuation of that.

″(Upton) has been in Washington for 30 years, but it was his action in May when he put forth the Republican amendment on the health care bill that inspired me to get into the race today.”

Longjohn said both the House and Senate-proposed health care bills will require those in the 6th district pay more for lower quality care. Michigan’s 6th Congressional District includes the counties of Van Buren, Kalamazoo, Cass, St. Joseph, Berrien and most of Allegan.

″(The bill) would hurt middle-class families in Michigan and around the country,” Longjohn said.

Health care and health education are the largest platform points of Longjohn’s, who spent seven years running health programs as the first national health officer for the YMCA. He retired earlier this year to launch his campaign.

At the YMCA, he led the creation of a program that was found to reduce new cases of diabetes by up to 71 percent, and will save Medicare $1.9 billion in the next decade.

The Detroit News: Doctor joins SW Michigan congressional race

The Detroit News: Doctor joins SW Michigan congressional race

Another Democrat is joining the race for Congress in southwest Michigan. Public health expert and physician Matt Longjohn launched his campaign Tuesday in hopes of unseating longtime GOP Rep. Fred Upton.

For seven years, Longjohn served as the national health officer of the YMCA, where he ran community health programs.

He left the position June 30, aiming to instead “improve the health and quality of life of people in the 6th District of Michigan,” he said.

Longjohn, 46, of Portage said a factor in his decision to run was when Upton negotiated a deal that helped House Republicans pass their plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act in early May.

“As a physician and health leader, I felt it was my duty to get into this race,” Longjohn told The Detroit News.

“The Republican health care actions are really going to cause a lot of problems for everyone in this district, sooner or later. Older adults are going to be paying an age tax. People will be paying more for less care. These (state) waivers are just going to allow insurers to essentially sell junk.”

ABC57: Matt Longjohn announces run for Michigan’s 6th Congressional District

ABC57: Matt Longjohn announces run for Michigan’s 6th Congressional District

A physician from Portage, Michigan is the latest person to announce he is running for Representative Fred Upton’s seat in congress.

Dr. Matt Longjohn began his campaign Tuesday.

He’s been in medicine for 20 years and most recently was the first physician to be the national health officer for the YMCA.

Longjohn says the current debate about health care in America and Upton’s key role in the recently passed House Bill inspired him to try out politics.

“I feel like the work that I’ve done on a national stage, the things that I’ve been able to produce and prove at a national level that create jobs, save lives, and improve health care are things that I need to bring home, lessons that I need to bring home and apply to my home district,” said Longjohn.

Longjohn joins at least four other democratic candidates looking to win Michigan’s 6th-District seat.

Congressman Upton has held the seat for the last 30 years.

The other candidates running for the seat released statements to ABC57 regarding Longjohn’s announcement.

Liz Garey, Campaign Director for Congressman Fred Upton, statement:

“Fred was overwhelmingly reelected with nearly 60 percent of the vote just eight months ago. Right now he’s laser focused on common-sense, bipartisan policies to create Michigan jobs and serving the best interests of folks here at home. While it’s no surprise another ultra-liberal candidate has announced, Fred’s top priority is to continue working tirelessly to make Michigan an even better place to live and work.”

Dave Benac statement:

“We have known for awhile about Matt’s intention to run, and we welcome him into the race. I believe a contested primary is important to getting the right candidate with the right ideas into the general election. This does not change our campaign as we will continue to travel the district to listen to voters, have conversations about the issues, and take part in community events. It is vitally important that in 2018 we put forward the candidate who is able to get people to the polls and restore our faith in our elected officials.”

Eponine Garrod statement:

“I am very excited to have Dr. Longjohn enter the race, bringing us up to 5 filed Democratic candidates. My team and I know that we are still bringing something different and much needed to this race which the other candidates cannot – that is a woman’s voice and a millenial’s voice – two extremely underrepresented demographics in our government. The reason I say I’m very excited is because finally the people of Michigan’s 6th District are getting a choice, and as an American who believes the choice and voice of the people is the core foundation of our democracy, I couldn’t have hoped for better. We really have every shade of Democrat coming forward and I’m honored to have Matt join our growing list.”

WMMT: Democrats in Michigan targeting five GOP seats in 2018

WMMT: Democrats in Michigan targeting five GOP seats in 2018

LANSING, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) – Even though the GOP health care plan is collapsing on Capitol Hill, Democrats are still planning to use it against Republicans in the 2018 election.

On Tuesday, another Democratic candidate jumped into the race against Republican U.S. Rep. Fred Upton.
Democrats in Washington, D.C. say Republicans like Upton are more vulnerable than they’ve ever been, because of the GOP health care plan.

“I want to hold Congressman Fred Upton responsible for his vote on the Republican health care bill, and that’s one of the main reasons that I am in this race,” said new congressional candidate Matt Longjohn, a physician and public health expert from Portage.

Longjohn, who has served as the national health officer for the YMCA, said he decided to run after watching Upton leave the Oval Office after making a deal with the president on the GOP healthcare plan.

“Around the country, folks know that Congressman Fred Upton is as responsible for the Republican health care bill efforts as anyone in Congress. This is his bill,” Longjohn said.

Several other Democrats are challenging Upton, including Paul Clements, who ran unsuccessful campaigns against Upton in 2014 and 2016.

Democrats also are targeting four other Republican congressmen in Michigan, including Jack Bergman, Tim Walberg, and Dave Trott.

Just last week, Democrat Elissa Slotkin announced her campaign against Mike Bishop. But Michigan State University political scientist Matt Grossman says it will be tough for Democrats to win all of those Republican seats in Michigan.

“It would have to be a pretty strong Democratic year to get that high on the target list,” he said.
Scott Hagerstrom ran President Donald Trump’s campaign in Michigan last year. He says Upton and other Republicans are safe.

“Unfortunately, Democrats … they’re way off base. They are bankrupt of ideas,” Hagerstrom said.
But as a public health leader, Longjohn says Upton is vulnerable because he says health care coverage is at risk.

“His vote puts this district on the map for national fundraising and organizing, and I think that with my national network I’ll be able to bring the resources to this district,” Longjohn said.

Democrats need to regain 24 seats to regain the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Kalamazoo Gazette: Democrat doctor challenges Fred Upton in 2018 after health care vote

Kalamazoo Gazette: Democrat doctor challenges Fred Upton in 2018 after health care vote

KALAMAZOO, MI — Dr. Matt Longjohn wants to hold U.S. Rep. Fred Upton “accountable” for his support of the American Health Care Act.

The Portage physician and former National Health Officer for the YMCA announced July 18 he will be running as a Democrat to take Upton’s seat in the 6th Congressional District. Longjohn, 46, said he decided to run after Upton negotiated an amendment in exchange for his support of the House Republican-backed bill.

“Ultimately it was Congressman Upton’s deal that sold our pre-existing conditions and essential health benefits down the river,” Longjohn said. “At that point it felt like a duty for me to get in. As someone who knows about healthcare, he had to be held responsible for what he was doing to Southwest Michigan families.”

Upton’s supported the bill after House leadership agreed to his amendment to make $8 billion available to assist those with pre-existing conditions. The decision sparked demonstrations outside his Kalamazoo and St. Joseph Offices.

Longjohn said the protections won’t be enough, and Upton’s support exchanges an admittedly flawed health care system which raises cost and reduces the quality of care. Pundits have speculated that the health care concerns can swing control of Congress to the Democrats, and Longjohn said he hopes to be a part of increased political engagement surrounding the issue.