Health care rights activist Ady Barkan took what might be his last big trip to advocate for Medicare for All at a congressional hearing.
The degenerative neurological disease ALS has robbed Ady Barkan of his ability to walk and his ability to talk. But that didn't stop him from traveling across the country, from California to Washington, D.C., to make an impassioned plea for Congress to guarantee universal health care by passing Medicare For All.
As the disease has rendered his diaphragm and tongue too weak to speak, Barkan gave testimony at a Thursday hearing of the House Rules Committee using a synthetic computerized voice.
Barkan delivered heartbreaking opening remarks in which he talked about his diagnosis with the terminal disorder, and how battles with his private insurance company over the treatment he needed has cost him not only of thousands of dollars but also precious time with his family.
"Like so many others, Rachael and I have had to fight with our insurer, which has issued outrageous denials instead of covering the benefits we’ve paid for," Barkan said in his opening remarks, referring to his wife. "We have so little time left together, and yet our system forces us to waste it dealing with bills and bureaucracy. That is why I am here today, urging you to build a more rational, fair, efficient, and effective system. I am here today to urge you to enact Medicare For All."
Tuesday's hearing was on a Medicare For All bill introduced by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), which would move the U.S. to a single-payer health care system where all Americans are able to get health insurance through the government, rather than being forced to rely on private insurance companies.
The bill is just one idea being floated by Democrats, who are working to ensure that the U.S. health care system works better for Americans.
Meanwhile Republicans, led by Trump, are still leading the effort to make the system worse by weakening key protections created by the Affordable Care Act under former President Barack Obama's tenure.
The GOP's constant efforts to repeal Obamacare and destabilize health insurance markets have left the country deeply skeptical about trusting Republicans on the issue of health care. A new poll out last week found that just 23 percent of Americans trust Republicans on health care.
Since taking control of the House, Democrats have now held actual hearings on health care plan proposals, as well as launched an investigation into out-of-control prescription drug pricing in the hopes of creating a system that works better for Americans.
That's a far cry from the GOP, which spent nearly a decade waging war against the Affordable Care Act — yet have offered no actual specifics on how to make a better system.
Democrats holding a respectful hearing with experts like Barkan offering impassioned and informed analysis proves one major point: Elections matter.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.