Dying Medicare for All Activist Urges Biden to Adopt Universal Health Care

As the Democratic Party formally selected Joe Biden as its nominee for president at the virtual Democratic National Convention, one of those who joined in the call to elect him was activist Ady Barkan, who is paralyzed and unable to speak due to terminal ALS. Barkan is a leading advocate of Medicare for All and has publicly challenged Biden, who does not support Medicare for All. “We live in the richest country in history. And yet we do not guarantee this most basic human right. Everyone living in America should get the healthcare they need, regardless of their employment status or ability to pay,” Barkan said, using computer assistance.

TRANSCRIPT

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AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González. We are breaking with convention, as we cover the Democratic National Convention underway virtually this week. As the Democratic Party formally announced Joe Biden as its nominee for president Tuesday night, one of those who joined in the call to elect him was Medicare for All activist Ady Barkan, who’s paralyzed and unable to speak due to terminal ALS.

ADY BARKAN: Hey, Carl, it’s me, Dad. By the time you’re watching this, you will have grown up to be strong and courageous. But I don’t know how much longer I’ll be around for you.

I was diagnosed with ALS today, which is a deadly, debilitating disease.

After I was diagnosed, the president passed a tax bill that put my healthcare at risk. So I went to Washington, D.C.

BROOKE BALDWIN: My next guest made headlines when he confronted a Republican senator on an airplane.

ADY BARKAN: You can be an American hero.

I wanted to help create a better country for you to live in.

Democracy is beautiful!

PROTESTERS: Democracy is beautiful!

ADY BARKAN: All that matters to me is to make you proud, because I’m already so proud of you.

Hello, America. My name is Ady Barkan, and I am speaking to you through this computer voice because I have been paralyzed by a mysterious illness called ALS. Like so many of you, I have experienced the ways our healthcare system is fundamentally broken — enormous costs, denied claims, dehumanizing treatment when we are most in need.

Since my shocking diagnosis, I have traveled the country meeting countless patients like me, demanding more of our representatives and our democracy. Today we are witnessing the tragic consequences of our failing healthcare system.

In the midst of a pandemic, nearly 100 million Americans do not have sufficient health insurance. And even good insurance does not cover essential needs like long-term care. Our loved ones are dying in unsafe nursing homes, our nurses are overwhelmed and unprotected, and our essential workers are treated as dispensable.

We live in the richest country in history, and yet we do not guarantee this most basic human right. Everyone living in America should get the healthcare they need, regardless of their employment status or ability to pay.

Even during this terrible crisis, Donald Trump and Republican politicians are trying to take away millions of people’s health insurance. With the existential threat of another four years of this president, we all have a profound obligation to act — not only to vote, but to make sure that our friends, family and neighbors vote, as well.

We must elect Joe Biden. Each of us must be a hero for our communities, for our country. And then, with a compassionate and intelligent president, we must act together and put on his desk a bill that guarantees us all the healthcare we deserve.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s leading Medicare for all activist Ady Barkan endorsing Joe Biden for president in a powerful address to the Democratic National Convention Tuesday night.