Dr. Longjohn is running for Congress to improve the health and quality of life for everyone in Southwest Michigan and across the United States. A high quality of life depends on having access to affordable health care, a safe and healthy environment, educational opportunities, and the resources needed to make ends meet. Matt’s policy priorities and decisions will always be based on the greatest potential to improve the lives of those he aims to serve. He won’t let special interests or Washington politics get in the way of delivering results for hard-working families.
Matt understands that a commitment to collaboration, inclusiveness, high ethical standards, and civility when working through difficult issues are all keys to leadership. He also knows first-hand that young people and their families sometimes struggle and may need a hand to get on their feet. His track-record as an innovator and problem solver proves he has the skills needed to effectively practice this kind of effective leadership on local, regional and national levels.
His family has been in Southwest Michigan for 150+ years, and his values reflect the shared community values of this district: prioritizing family and community; treating all people fairly; living up to the promise of a handshake; dedication to producing greater opportunities for our children and future generations; and a belief that hard work and charitable living benefits everyone.
Dr. Longjohn believes that access to high-quality and affordable health care is a human right. It is unacceptable that our ZIP codes tell us more about our family’s health than our genetic code. Everyone—regardless of age, income, race, ethnicity, gender or sexual identity—should be confident in their ability to receive needed care or preventive services, and not be forced to choose between obtaining essential health care and other vital daily needs.
Matt is one of a handful of people in U.S. history to have successfully demonstrated how health care can change for the better. Dr. Longjohn has shown how entry-level health workers hired by community organizations can help neighbors to avoid chronic diseases while also reducing health care costs. The power of community innovation needs to be unlocked in our health care system, and public health needs to be prioritized in ongoing health care reform efforts.
Dr. Longjohn believes that there is a need for constant vigilance to defend against efforts by Washington politicians like Congressman Upton to sabotage the individual markets, water-down the Essential Health Benefits that guarantee coverage for women’s health and preventive services, or to allow insurers to waive coverage for pre-existing conditions. Other immediate changes are needed in our health care system to reduce drug prices, secure resources for mental health and rural health care, invest in prevention services that will save lives and money, and to ensure we are rewarding providers for producing outcomes instead of just seeing a high volume of patients. Matt also believes we need a long-term strategy to expand Medicare and Medicaid, and to reduce the role that employers play in health care decision-making.
Too many hard-working families are struggling too often to make ends meet. It shouldn’t be this hard. The 35-year experiment in producing jobs and stimulating the economy through unaccountable tax breaks for corporations and the wealthiest among us has only resulted in widening income inequalities and a shrinking middle class. Full-time workers need live-able wages, and good-paying jobs need to be protected—not just created—and women deserve equal pay at all salary levels. International trade agreements must not incentivize employers to leave the country, or help them profit by devaluing American labor. Jobs programs should target rural as well as urban communities, and Dreamers should be welcomed participants in our economy. Employers can take on less of the burden of providing health insurance for their workers, but should be expected to put some of those savings back into other benefits and programs that protect jobs and keep them in the district. As in health care, education, and environmental policies, Matt believes in unlocking the power of community by focusing on growing local innovation opportunities. Small businesses, trade and labor associations, and community banks, must all be supported better by our federal policies by eliminating unnecessary regulations and putting them on more equal footing with larger national and multi-national corporations.
Matt grew up in a family with a number of teachers, and is a strong proponent of high-quality public education. As a product of public schools and a parent of kids in public schools, he knows first-hand how public schools help to produce community and opportunities for our families. He believes that government resources should not be going to private or for-profit education institutions, and that funding for public education needs to be increased. We also can’t let Title IX be rolled back in ways that make it harder for victims of sexual assault to seek justice. In addition to being a strong supporter of teachers and K-12 schools, Matt also places a high value on quality early childhood education. Matt knows that not all learning is done in an educational setting. Vocational education, job training programs, and apprenticeships must also be strengthened for people who decide not to obtain a four-year degree or for those who have lost a job or are seeking a new line of work. Matt graduated medical school with $250,000 of educational debt, which he is still paying off, and believes strongly that we need to expand opportunities for student loan restructuring and forgiveness through community service. Young people coming out of college should be incentivized to make a difference in their communities, and not just to make a dollar.
The evidence is clear. Risks of climate change are real and imminent, and work to protect our environment for future generations is needed immediately. Matt believes pulling out of the Paris Accords was a mistake, and will work to support the development of a clean and renewable energy economy. Our Great Lakes and other natural resources here in Michigan are treasures, and protecting them, our rivers, and other green spaces is a fundamental job of public leadership. These natural assets are also what creates tourism, and it’s in the best interest of our economy that we fiercely defend them. In addition to supporting efforts to guarantee clean air and water, we can also be making environmental changes that support healthy behaviors a growing economy. For example, we need walkable and bike-able communities, complete streets policies, and regional food systems. These changes to our built environment can make healthy choices become easier choices, and provide economic development at the same time.