Medicare for All activist Ady Barkan, left paralyzed and unable to speak by ALS, delivered a powerful indictment of the "fundamentally broken" for-profit U.S. healthcare system in his remarks at the Democratic National Convention Tuesday night, decrying a status quo that saddles Americans with massive costs while providing inadequate treatment.
"We live in the richest country in history, and yet we do not guarantee this most basic human right."
Using a voice-generating device attached to his wheelchair, Barkan relayed his experiences navigating America's fragmented and dysfunctional insurance system since his diagnosis in 2016 and said the Covid-19 crisis has shined a spotlight on "the tragic consequences" of the nation's failure to guarantee healthcare to all as a right.
"In the midst of a pandemic, nearly 100 million Americans do not have sufficient health insurance," said Barkan. "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," Barkan continued. "Everyone living in America should get the healthcare they need, regardless of their employment status or ability to pay."
Condemning congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump for continuing their push to strip healthcare from millions amid a global pandemic, Barkan said "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," added Barkan, who has publicly challenged the former vice president on his failure to support Medicare for All. "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."