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.

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