Ady Barkan: Dying ALS patient delivers passionate speech on first day of Medicare-for-All hearings

Ady Barkan delivered his speech to Congess using a text-to-voice programme

Clark Mindock
New York
Tuesday 30 April 2019 21:51 BST
(Getty Images)

Ady Barkan, an activist for single-payer healthcare and a patient in the late stages of ALS, has opened up the first Congressional hearing on “Medicare for All” with a passionate speech urging lawmakers to take action on the policy that could save lives.

Mr Barkan, who was diagnosed with ALS three years ago, delivered his speech through text-to-voice computer programme, which he must use now as a result of the degenerative neurological disease that is likely to take his life.

“Never before have I given a speech without my natural voice,” Mr Barkan told the House Rules Committee on Tuesday. “Never before have I had to rely on a synthetic voice to lay out my arguments, convey my most passionately held beliefs, tell the details of my personal story.”

Mr Barkan told that story in Washington, one in which he and his wife were blind sided by his deadly diagnosis just as they were beginning their lives together, complete with a newborn and a solid start to their careers.

The hearing Mr Barkan attended is the first of its kind into the issue of “Medicare for All” — which is the phase used to describe universal healthcare — which has gained momentum as an alternative to the current American healthcare system that.

The plan has been championed by presidential candidates like Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, and others. The current system relies heavily on private insurance companies to provide coverage.

During his testimony, Mr Barkan laid out why he supports the Medicare for All proposal . That includes exorbitant and unavoidable costs related to his rare disease, like the $9,000 a month his family must pay out-of-pocket for his one care.

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Mr Barkan was invited to the hearing by two prominent Democrats in the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and chairman of the House Rules Committee Jim McGovern.

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