JAMESTOWN – Democratic Congressional candidate Tracy Mitrano (D – Penn Yan) was in Jamestown on Friday to announce a series of upcoming listening sessions and to also point out that residents in the 23rd Congressional District and neighboring counties will see more than $500,000 in medical debt disappear, thanks to the help of two physicians – including one who lives in Chautauqua County.
Mitrano’s announcement came during a press conference at the James Prendergast Library late Friday morning to highlight a unique partnership helping district residents out from under crushing medical debt.
Mitrano said that Working with the non profit group RIP Medical Debt, Chautauqua County physician Ralph Walton and Tompkins County physician Dr. Marguerite Uphoff announced that they and other area doctors would help eliminate more than $500,000 of medical debt.
“$5,000 of the contributions of Dr. Walton and Dr. Uphoff have extinguished nearly a half-a-million dollars of medical debt. With their donations we were able to expire $500,000 of commodified medical debt for the people in the 23rd district and surrounding counties,” Mitrano said.
Dr. Walton joined Mitrano and said he donated his own personal money to help remove the debt because he wanted to help struggling families while also drawing attention to the country’s ongoing healthcare crisis…. adding tht the United States might have the most expensive healthcare system in the world, but that doesn’t make it the best.
“We have the most expensive healthcare system in the world. Tragically, that does not translate into the best healthcare. We are currently 28th when it comes to longevity. In other words, 27 nations have better longevity statistics than the United States. We’re 31st when it comes to infant mortality. This absolutely should not be happening,” Dr. Walton said.
Mitrano said that the indebtedness many Americans face due to healthcare is something current Congressman Tom Reed (R-Corning) refuses to do anything about. She illustrated her point by saying that Reed for years was connected to a medial debt collection agency and also voted against the affordable care act and other types of legislation that would ease the debt burden.
“Tom Reed’s company profited from our nation’s most vulnerable people – people who are up to their ears, if not drowning, in medical debt. And why is that a conflict of interest? Over 70 times in the almost 10 years he has represented this district he has voted against affordable healthcare coming from, and still have an interest in, medical debt collection, “Mitrano said. “He consistently demonstrates that his greatest concern is with himself with no recognition of the real need of the people in this district. Enough is enough. It’s time to get Tom Reed out of office.”
Also as part of the press conference, Mitrano announced she is launching a five-city healthcare listening tour beginning today in Dunkirk, with a second meeting scheduled on Tuesday from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Jamestown, 1255 Prendergast Avenue.
Upon the conclusion of the five-day healthcare listening tour, Mitrano will issue a plan to address healthcare costs and work on a non-partisan basis to bring about a real solution to the crisis.
Mitrano is seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination as a candidate in the 2020 election against Tom Reed, who’s also already announced his intention to run for reelection. Mitrano also ran as the Democratic candidate in the 2018 race and lost to Reed by a margin of 54 to 44 percent of the the vote.
So far only one other Democrat has come forward to seek the party’s nomination as candidate in this year’s congressional race and that is Dr. Scott Noren of Ithaca.