WASHINGTON ― A day after HuffPost reported on the controversy over the lack of pro-single-payer voices at the upcoming hearing on “Medicare for All,” the House Rules Committee announced Friday that a hero among single-payer advocates would now also testify: Ady Barkan.
Barkan, who has ALS and is an undisputed champion of Medicare for All, will be a strong voice for a single-payer health care system and will put to bed the concerns of many activists that there wasn’t a forceful enough proponent of Medicare for All on the witness panel.
“Ady Barkan has been fighting for many of the principles this Majority believes in for a long time, including the notion that health care is a right and not a privilege,” Rules Chairman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said in a press release Friday. “His extraordinary advocacy since his diagnosis has been an inspiration to so many Americans.”
McGovern went on to say that, at the same time, Barkan’s story represents what millions of Americans face every day in this country when diagnosed with an unexpected and life-changing illness.
“I’m proud that Ady will add his powerful perspective to our hearing, and I’m grateful to Speaker Pelosi for relaying his enthusiastic willingness to be a part of it,” McGovern said.
There was concern among single-payer advocates that the hearing on Tuesday would not include a forceful enough voice for Medicare for All. Of the four witnesses Democrats had chosen to testify, only one seemed to support Medicare for All, and his testimony was supposed to be limited to patient experience.
Sources told HuffPost that Pelosi’s staff and the Rules Committee had applied a certain criteria to any witness: If the person led a single-payer group, was an activist or had said anything negative about the Affordable Care Act, they couldn’t testify.
In many ways, Barkan violates all three of the criteria. He is the founder of the Be A Hero PAC, an outspoken activist for single-payer, and while an enthusiastic defender of the ACA, he has also been clear that the law alone is not enough.
But Barkan is also exactly the sort of champion that Medicare for All proponents wanted to see speaking on the panel.
According to The Hill, Barkan texted Pelosi and asked to testify. Pelosi then contacted McGovern and asked him to add Barkan.
Pelosi tweeted about the addition of Barkan on Friday, calling it “wonderful.”
“I am grateful to Chairman McGovern and Speaker Pelosi for making this hearing possible and inviting me to testify,” Barkan said in a press release. “Tuesday will be just the latest example of why I worked so hard to help Democrats win back the House in November.”
Barkan continued that the American people had heard the message loud and clear: “Republicans are bad for your health.”
“Progressives have a plan to fix the American healthcare system once and for all,” he said. “It will take immense effort and teamwork for me to attend this hearing, but that is what is required ― from me and thousands of other healthcare heroes ― to deliver us the change that the American people deserve.”
In a post on Medium, Barkan noted that he now requires full-time home care, costing his family $9,000 per month in addition to what his insurance covers.
“Traveling from California will require Barkan, who is unable to move or feed himself independently, to board a plane with two full-time caregivers and will expose him to the risk of serious illness,” the post said.