Testimony of Ady Barkan (speaking through a computer because of the limitations of his amyotrophic lateral sclerosis)
House of Representatives, Committee on Rules, April 30, 2019
Crucially, Medicare For All is the only way to make our healthcare system more efficient. Over the past three years, I have seen first hand how the current system creates absurdly wasteful cost-shifting, delays, billing disputes, rationing, and worry. Administrative waste is costing us hundreds of billions of dollars every year. Medicare For All will streamline the entire system, letting doctors and nurses focus on delivering care instead of on paperwork. As a single payer program, Medicare For All will be able to eliminate immoral price gouging by pharmaceutical and device companies. The fundamental truth is that too many corporations make too much money off of our illnesses, and they are spending gazillions of dollars lobbying and campaigning and fighting to stop us from building something better.
It is very important to emphasize the following point: these cost savings are only possible through a genuine Medicare For All system. Other proposals to increase health insurance coverage, such as those that would make Medicare compete with private insurance, would not facilitate administrative and billing savings.
There are many other major benefits to Medicare For All, and these are detailed in the written testimony submitted by the nurses and others.
But my time to deliver this testimony is running out. And, in a much more profound sense, my time to deliver this message to the American people is running out as well. So I want to end on this third and final note.
Our time on this earth is the most precious resource we have. A Medicare For All system will save all of us tremendous time. For doctors and nurses and providers, it will mean more time giving high quality care. And for patients and our families, it will mean less time dealing with a broken health care system and more time doing the things we love, together.
Some people argue that although Medicare for All is a great idea, we need to move slowly to get there. But I needed Medicare for All yesterday. Millions of people need it today. The time to pass this law is now.
Winning this reform will not be easy. The monied interests will do everything in their power to stop us. And yet despite these obstacles and despite the personal challenges that I face, I sit before you today a hopeful man, a hopeful husband, and a hopeful father.
I am hopeful because right now, there is a mass movement of people from all over this country, rising up. Nurses, doctors, patients, caregivers, family members — we are all insisting that there is a better way to structure our society, a better way to care for one another, a better way to use our precious time together.
And so my closing message is not for the members of this committee. It is for the American people.
Join us in this struggle. Be a hero for your family, your communities, your country. Come give your passion and your energy and your precious time to this movement. It is a battle worth waging, and a battle worth winning. For my son Carl, for your children, and for our children’s children.
We have a once in a generation opportunity to win what we really deserve. No more half measures. No more healthcare for some. We can win Medicare for All.
This is our Congress. This is our democracy. And this is our future for the making.
Transcript of Ady Barkan’s full testimony:
Video clip of Ady Barkan’s testimony:
For links to written testimony of all witnesses:
For video of the entire hearing:
By Don McCanne, M.D.
In spite of feeble opposition testimony, the message came through loud and clear that the United States must enact a single payer Medicare for All program if we wish to have health care justice for all.
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