All I do know is that once you rally the American people to stand up and fight back against corporate greed I believe we can do a lot more than people think we can do. Hey.
Hello, hello. How are you? Senator, great to see you. OK. I don’t. That’s… don’t worry about my hair too much. Thank you for doing this. And thank you for everything you’ve done these last few years you’ve helped to reset our political discourse and are demanding that we center our politics around justice and equity. So thank you. Well let me thank you Ady. And you have been an integral part of the struggle to make it clear that health care is a human right and that every person in our country. Is entitled to all the health care they need regardless of their income. So I want to thank you and I know it’s not been easy. And it takes a lot out of you but I do appreciate the struggle that you’re waging to improve this country. And understand that health care is a human right. Thank you so much. Before we get into policy I’m wondering if you’d be willing to share some more advice with me. Senator you are both a father and grandfather and one of my favorite photos of you is a gif where you are tossing a baseball to your grandson. You seem genuinely at ease. I’m now a father too. Because I was diagnosed with ALS only four months after Carl was born. The two experiences are very intertwined for me. I would love to hear more about your experience being a father. What were your favorite parts of fatherhood. I think my favorite parts is as I think back is we had moved to a very rural part of Vermont, a town called Stannard. And my son was just a year and it was a lot of fun walking with him as a very young boy around a very very rural community. And right now I have seven beautiful grandchildren. I spend a good part of my spare time when I’m back home playing baseball and soccer and basketball and football with these kids who are all very very good athletes. It’s a lot of fun and I enjoy doing it very much. I want to ask you a couple more personal questions.
Fire away. I recently read an article where you opened up about your mother’s death. You were only 18 years old at the time which must have been incredibly painful. But the piece that struck me was when you said that her death helped shape your views on the need for guaranteed health care for everyone. Can you share the ways that loss has influenced your passion for justice and specifically health care justice. Well it is not only my family and I grew up in a family that did not have a lot of money. But I go around the country and every day including yesterday right here in Los Angeles we talked to people who have lost loved ones because they could not afford the medicine or the health care that they. Needed. So you stop and you think about it if somebody comes down with a terrible illness that’s really bad. But on top of that why should they have to suffer financial distress. Why should they have to go into bankruptcy in order to pay off health care bills. What they should be doing is concentrating on how they get well that’s hard enough. It is not acceptable but we have 10 drug companies making 69 billion in profits last year. And so many people cannot simply afford the medicine they desperately need. Last week a woman reached out to me on Twitter to tell me she was recently diagnosed with diabetes and her insulin costs three thousand dollars. She can’t afford it so she usually takes half her prescribed dose or less. Another person told me about a twelve thousand dollar hospital bill that has gone to a collections agency. She has insurance through her husband’s employer but she says that they cut back benefits more and more every year. These stories represent two of hundreds of tweets I’ve gotten just in the last several weeks detailing tragic stories about our health care system. As a presidential candidate. I hear these stories every single day. You know we hear stories where people are dying who should not have died but that they went to the doctor too late because they didn’t have insurance or they were underinsured. People die because they can’t afford the medicine they need. People are literally afraid to go into an emergency room even when an emergency strikes them because they cannot afford the cost of the emergency room. We have got to do what every other major country on earth does guarantee comprehensive health care covering all basic needs to all of our people. And when we do that by the way we’re not only improving health. In America we are saving money. We are wasting hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars not just on the profiteering of the insurance companies and the drug companies but on the incredible maze of bureaucracy of hundreds of separate insurance companies each with different deductibles and copayments and premiums and the cost of administering that kind of complex program is just unbelievable. For years you have been an advocate for single payer health care with every American getting guaranteed coverage through Medicare as a right. And for years your voice was a lonely one. Are you proud of how far the health care debate in the Democratic Party has moved since 2008 and even more since 2000 and 16. Yeah but it’s not only in Congress the progress that we have made is with the American people. And as you may know poll after poll a lot depends on how you word the question. But 86 percent of Democrats support Medicare for All. Sixty eight percent of independents support it. And a lot of Republicans do as well. So we are gaining progress in Congress. We’re gaining progress with the American people and I am very proud of that. So many of us have joined this fight because of personal experience. One person who has gotten involved in health care advocacy is Elena Hung who co-founded a new family led organization named Little lobbyists. Elena and her young daughter Xiomara and families like them meet with members of Congress to advocate for expanded health care coverage. You don’t have time to think about will this insurance plan cover her care. I wasn’t just Xiomara’s mom. You know I was her social worker. I was her nurse and I was her therapist and adding to that list was becoming her advocate. All of a sudden you have one more. Thing to add to this because it just feels so urgent. It’s a stunning indictment of our country that people are forced to invest hundreds of hours of their time and turn themselves into professional advocates in order to ensure the survival of their children. Does that kind of citizen advocacy give you hope or does it make you mad. Because people should not have to do it in the first place. Well both but I think the fact that people are standing up and fighting for justice right now. Will create the moment in the not too many years from now where people will not have to do that where health care will be understood to be a right. You know what can we say other than it is cruel and insane that we have people who are on the Go Fund Me Web sites in order to get funding for procedures that a life or death for them. Senator since my diagnosis I have been thinking a lot about my legacy. I’m curious what do you want your legacy to be after you eventually exit the stage of national politics. How do you want to be remembered. Well I hope that people will remember me as somebody who had the courage. To take on. Virtually all of the powerful special interests in this country in the fight for economic social racial environmental justice. And as somebody who did his best as a young person, who opposed the Vietnam War marching out on the streets and as a United States congressman to oppose the war in Iraq to try to create a world in which international conflict can be resolved through diplomacy and not through war. I think in terms of your legacy, Ady, I think it will be very clear that even with the terrible illness that you are struggling with right now that you didn’t give up that you understood that especially given your illness that you could play a significant role in rallying the American people toward a sane and humane health care system and I think you will be remembered in very very wonderful ways as a man of great courage in doing.