Warren scolds audience for laughing at story of ALS sufferer in 'Medicare-for-all' debate: 'This isn’t funny’

DETROIT -- Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., on Tuesday was not happy at the 2020 Democratic debate audience’s reaction to her pulling the debate back to her story of a friend who was suffering from ALS while battling his insurance company -- telling the audience “this isn’t funny.”

The moment came during a heated discussion between candidates about the costs and consequences of “Medicare-for-all” policies. Warren, who is a passionate critic of the current private health care system and insurance companies, said she wanted to talk about Ady Barkan -- a 35-year-old activist suffers from ALS. Warren said “it’s killing him.”


She said that he had good health insurance but it wasn’t enough for him to get the treatment he needs. But before she could finish her story, she was cut off by CNN moderator Jake Tapper who then asked her about whether she would raise taxes on the middle class to pay for it.

She answered that by saying billionaires and “giant corporations” would pay more, but middle class families would pay less out of pocket. She then tried to pull the topic back to her friend.

“And I’d like to finish talking about Eddie, the guy who has ALS,” she said. But that remark was met with some laughter from the audience -- and possibly on stage as well.

“This isn’t funny,” she scolded. “This is somebody who has health insurance and is dying and every month he has $9,000 in medical bills that his insurance company won’t cover.”

She went on to talk about how his wife is spending hours on phones begging insurance companies to cover him, and how he begs “friends, family and strangers” for money.


She said that the for-profit model of an insurance company “is not working for Americans across this country.”

“Medicare-for-all will fix that,” she said.

She finished her story without any further laughter from the audience. Barkan later tweeted his thanks to Warren, adding: "You are right: this health care system is unconscionable."