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By John Furman

Ady Barkan who is fighting ALS has made a name for himself as a health care activist. He’s currently on a national tour, calling for the repeal of the #TrumpTax (voted into law by Congresswoman Tenney), which will take away health care from families like Ady’s in order to give tax breaks to billionaires.

Last Saturday, Ady was a speaker at a rally organized by Central New York Citizen Action at the Oneida Square Roundabout marking the anniversary of the two most successful social programs in our nation’s history — Medicaid and Medicare. Ady Barkan who is fighting ALS has made a name for himself as a health care activist. He’s currently on a national tour, calling for the repeal of the #TrumpTax (voted into law by Congresswoman Tenney), which will take away health care from families like Ady’s in order to give tax breaks to billionaires.

About 50 local residents joined with Ady and other community leaders in calling on Congresswoman Tenney to repeal the #TrumpTax and to vote “NO” on additional cuts to human service and health care programs that our families, friends, and neighbors depend on.    “We are on a mission to take back our democracy. I can’t think of a better way to spend my last days than to show these politicians like Rep. Tenney that their votes have real consequences for people like me. If they can’t Be A Hero for the American people, then Americans will rise up to be our own heroes and elect a government that we deserve,” said Ady Barkan. Healthcare advocate with ALS, Ady Barkan originally gained national fame when he confronted Sen. Jeff Flake mid-flight with a plea to vote no on the tax bill.

Ady is traveling the country as part of his Summer of Heroes Tour where, despite facing death and paralysis, he is using his last days touring the country in an RV this summer to challenge Republican members of Congress to be heroes by standing up for access to affordable healthcare. Repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the GOP tax scam bill will take away health care from 13 million people. On the tour, Ady is teaming up with Not One Penny and CPD Action and using his social platform of over 63,000 twitter followers to put a human face to horrific legislation that takes away health care from people like him.

After graduating from Yale Law School, Ady Barkan dedicated his life to the fight for social and economic equality by directing programs, such as Fed Up, at the Center for Popular Democracy. In October of 2016, Ady was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), which has an average life expectancy of 2-5 years from diagnosis and requires significant healthcare expenses. Despite being a 33-year old father with a newborn, Ady doubled down on his fight for others.

In 2017, Ady became one of the primary voices decrying the harm the Republican Tax Cut Scam would have on Americans’ access to healthcare. Repealing the ACA’s individual mandate will raise health insurance costs by up to 19.4% in 2018. House Speaker Paul Ryan made it clear the GOP plans to target Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security to make up for the $1.7 trillion dollar hole they made in the debt in order to lower taxes for large corporations and the ultra-wealthy.

Ady rightly feared that Mitch McConnell would break his promise to circumvent automatic PAYGO spending cuts to Medicare and the ACA of over $30 billion annually combined, and the lives of Ady and millions of others literally hung in the balance as a result.

At the rally, Citizen Action, Americans for Health Care Now, and Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) released a new report that details the impact of Republican proposals on Medicaid and Medicare on  New York State including:  • On the 53rd anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid, the tax and spending policies of President Trump and the GOP endanger these critical public health care programs that serve 120 million Americans. • 8,595,900 New York residents enrolled in Medicare or Medicaid face threats to their coverage because of the cost of the Trump-GOP tax cuts that mostly benefit the state’s wealthiest families and the country’s most profitable corporations, including drug companies and health insurance companies. • The Trump-GOP tax law added nearly $2 trillion to the national debt, and now Trump and the GOP propose to pay for that by slashing funding for Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). • Trump, who as a candidate promised never to cut Medicare or Medicaid, now is seeking a total of $1.3 trillion in cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and the ACA. • House Republicans propose slashing $2 trillion from Medicare, Medicaid, and the ACA to reduce the debt and pay for the tax cuts. Such massive cuts will likely delay Medicare for seniors until the age of 67, cause millions to lose their health care, jack up premiums and other out-of-pocket costs for millions more, make life-saving medicines costlier for seniors and families, restrict critical services for people with disabilities, limit the response to the devastating opioid crisis and eliminate key protections for people with pre-existing conditions. • The 96,400 New York residents who make up the state’s wealthiest 1% have an average annual income of $3,161,300. Each will get a tax cut of over $29,890 a year on average under the Trump-GOP tax law. • A New York family of three must make less than $28,676 to qualify for Medicaid. The median income of Medicare recipients nationwide is about $26,000. • Trump and the GOP still want to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which protects 8,398,900 New York residents with pre-existing conditions from being denied coverage or charged exorbitant premiums. • The tax law lets drug companies pad their profits while raising healthcare costs for average Americans. The 10 biggest U.S. drug companies got a $76 billion tax cut on their offshore profits from the Trump-GOP tax law. In recent years, prices for the most widely used prescription drugs spiked at least 15% a year. No drug company has said it will use its tax cuts to reduce drug prices. • Rather than cut Medicare, Medicaid, and the ACA, Congress should repeal tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations and use the resulting revenue to strengthen these three bedrock public health programs. If you would like to get involved in fighting to preserve our health care, please contact John Furman at cnycitizenaction@gmail.com or call 315.725.0974.

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