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 Ady Barkan (C), who lives with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), delivers remarks during a rally organized by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in the Rayburn Room at the U.S. Capitol December 19, 2017 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Ady Barkan Takes Medicare for All Fight to California to Prove 'Single Payer Healthcare Works in America'

"Medicare for All supporters, this is our most important fight right now."

Julia Conley

After years of lobbying political candidates and lawmakers in Washington to support Medicare for All and helping to bring the issue to the forefront of the healthcare debate in the 2020 election, advocate Ady Barkan announced Tuesday he is bringing the fight for single-payer healthcare back to his home state of California.

Barkan, who has ALS and is a co-founder of the Be A Hero Action Fund, is launching a project called California Healthcare Conversations to rally support for the state Assembly's Guaranteed Healthcare for All Act (AB 1400).

The bill was introduced in February by Assemblymember Ash Kalra and several other Democratic co-sponsors who want a single-payer healthcare system for California.

Passing AB 1400, said Barkan, would be a major step forward in the fight for a nationwide Medicare for All program. 

Calling the bill's passage the "most important fight right now" for the Medicare for All movement, Barkan posted a video on social media explaining the California Healthcare Conversations project.

"If we can show that single-payer is possible in our nation's most populous, most racially and economically diverse state, we can prove that Medicare for All can be reality nationwide," Barkan said.

Barkan's first conversation, with Assemblymember Kalra, will be released Thursday. He also plans to speak with federal lawmakers Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and activists including Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr and actress Rosario Dawson. 

"This year California has the chance to pass a bill that shows that single-payer healthcare works in America," said Barkan. "The question I have for politicians and celebrities across the state is, how can we make it happen?"

Under AB 1400, the state would adopt a new healthcare system known as CalCare, which would expand health coverage to nearly three million uninsured Calfornians and provide them with dental care, prescription drug coverage, long-term care, and mental health and substance abuse treatment. 

"People are dying and suffering," Kalra told Kaiser Health News in February. "They're going bankrupt and starting GoFundMe pages just in order to survive in the wealthiest state in the wealthiest nation on earth. We now have a Democratic White House, and forward-thinking Democrats like Xavier Becerra going to Washington who can be incredibly helpful." 

On Twitter, Barkan emphasized that people who don't live in California have good reason to watch the conversations, noting that Canada's universal healthcare system began with just one province adopting the program. 

The California Nurses Association, which sponsored AB 1400, and National Nurses United (NNU) also promoted Barkan's new campaign on social media.

"It's time for single-payer in California!" tweeted NNU.

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