Ady Barkan Is Dedicating His Life To Fighting For Your Health Care

The activist became a national hero while touring the country in a wheelchair.

Read about all of A Plus' 2018 Game Changers of the Year here.

Ady Barkan knows his days are numbered, but that's not stopping him from fighting for what he believes is right.

The 34-year-old was diagnosed with ALS in October 2016 shortly after the birth of his son and has been on a crusade to expand health care ever since. A Yale Law School graduate, Barkan has traveled the country speaking to politicians, and in front of thousands of people, and listening to the stories of others who need more affordable, accessible health care. He earned A Plus' Game Changer recognition for staring down his life-threatening disease, refusing to give up, and profoundly changing the conversation around the 2018 midterms election.

In recent months, Barkan's voice has weakened to the point that it is difficult to understand him over the phone. Still, he continues to grant interview requests with media outlets and now responds to questions via email. 


"Our biggest accomplishment in recent years has been to move the Democratic Party to the left so that its leaders now promote a robust vision for social justice," Barkan told A Plus in an email. "If and when the Democratic Party is able to take back power, I hope that we can leverage this accomplishment into a set of public policies that make life better for hundreds of millions of people."

After Democrats took back the House in November, Rep. Nancy Pelosi — now the majority leader — took the time to thank Barkan for his work on Twitter. 

"We are all profoundly grateful for you, @AdyBarkan," she said. "Your passion for saving our health care and charting a new path for progressive change were an inspiration throughout the campaign. Your labor of love helped us win the House in order to deliver #ForThePeople."

When speaking with A Plus, Barkan admitted that he has lost — "on the tax scam, on DACA renewal, in the special election in Arizona, and most recently on the Kavanaugh nomination" — but he continues to fight as his physical condition deteriorates. 

Asked if he had advice for other activists, Barkan didn't hold back.

"Be bold in your demands: join the movement for Medicare for All," he said. "We've had enough tinkering at the margin, and we need to build a rational, fair, and humane healthcare system."

Cover image via Karl_Sonnenberg /


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