Rally in support of Medicare and Medicaid held in Trenton

Ady Barkan of Santa Barbara, California, brought his compelling story to the State House Monday. He’s fighting a life-threatening disease and speaking out in favor of Medicare and Medicaid.

“Two years ago I was a healthy 32-year-old. Then, out of nowhere, I was diagnosed with ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease. Every month my body is wasting away, becoming more and more paralyzed, so I don’t have much time left to share my message with the American people,” said Barkan.

He’s on a 6-week cross-country road trip. His wheelchair-accessible RV are where he and his team sleep at night. His message is that Medicare and Medicaid need saving. Perhaps you didn’t know they were under attack.

“Oh, like never before,” Barkan said. “The Republicans in Congress and in the White House are trying to do everything they can to cut funding, kick people off, impose work requirements, registration requirements, increase fees and they believe that the government should not help people in need.”

He has a wife and two-year-old son at home. The trip will take him to 21 states. He attended Columbia and Yale Law School. He’ll need Medicare soon. Right now he works for Be A Hero, an organization he founded.

“Within a year or two, when I have to stop working, I will depend on it. So I’m fighting for it now so it’ll be there for me and for everyone else who needs it,” he said.

He was a featured speaker at a State House news conference Monday morning. New Jersey Citizen Action and New Jersey Policy Perspective called it to commemorate an anniversary. Fifty-three years ago to the day President Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare and Medicaid into law.

“These are real people’s lives. This is not, and should not be, a ‘political battle.’ The millions of people whose lives depend on these programs deserve more,” said Maura Collinsgru, health care program director for New Jersey Citizen Action.

New Jersey Policy Perspective released a report Monday that alleges there are 18 ways the Trump administration is sabotaging current health care laws.

Three Democrats, Sen. Bob Menendez, Congressman Frank Pallone, and Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, lent their heft to the messaging.

“Instead of celebrating this 53rd year anniversary, we are trying to hold on,” Coleman said.

“They spent the last 18 months trying to sabotage the Affordable Care Act, and they are having a very good success,” Pallone said.

“Americans are not going to forget how Republicans spent years trying to take health insurance from 32 million people,” Menendez said.

“The truth is unambiguous. Republicans are trying to take health care away from Americans in order to enrich their campaign contributors,” Barkan said.

So Barkan wants you to know he needs Medicare to stay alive. And he’s not bashful about saying what party he thinks is trying to take it away from him.