Jason Becker is the most inspirational story in heavy metal. One of the biggest shredders in the game, he played in Van Halen frontman David Lee Roth's solo band and then teamed up with Marty Friedman for Cacophony, one of the most underrated bands of all time. Becker shredded his way through a killer solo album, Perpetual Burn as well.
Sadly, Becker's career was slowed down when he was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's Disease (ALS), and lost the use of all his motor skills, which he has lived with for 27 years now. Becker has not let the disability hinder his musical output, as friends invented a computer language for him so that he could compose music with the blink of an eye and the movement of his chin. It was documented in the 2012 documentary, Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet.
Becker now faces possibly his biggest challenge, losing Medicaid, the insurance that pays for his most of his care. If you're paying attention to the news in America right now, the Senate is trying to push through a new health care bill, that was already shoved through the House of Representatives, which at the core of it, strips basic services like Medicaid to clear the way for massive tax cuts for the rich. Millions of Americans would also see their insurance premiums go up, especially older folks and the disabled, who require a higher degree of care. Here's a much better explainer on all the people who would be crushed by this bill (TL;DR: poor and disabled people).
Becker would be one of those people. Earlier this week, Becker took to Facebook to speak out about the proposed Trumpcare bill:
I usually stay out of politics, but people have asked me whether the American Healthcare Act (AHCA), if passed by the Senate, will affect me personally. I’m about music, not politics, but the fact is this one has me freaked out for poor and disabled people. I have survived ALS to continue my work as a musician and composer for 28 years due to the care I receive through insurance and Medicaid. Without these supports my family can flat out not manage my care and my life and career will be in serious jeopardy. When President Trump promised we would get better, cheaper healthcare that would fix the problems of the Affordable Care Act, I hoped it was true. Unfortunately, the American Healthcare Act promises giant cuts to the programs that I and every other poor, sick and disabled person have relied on for our lives. The Medicaid per capita block grants to states will mean bluntly that people with costly needs like mine will be too expensive to cover. The removal of limits on insurance premiums means that people with expensive medical care needs can be priced out of the market. I would certainly be one of those affected. Lastly, insurance companies will not be required to cover basic services, such as hospitalization. This means, for example, the next time I get pneumonia I would not be able to afford the intensive treatment I would need to survive it.
None of these reductions in benefits is offset by any other aspect of the bill. The only beneficiaries of these drastic cuts are the wealthy, who are set to receive a tax break if the bill passes. It breaks my heart that this country could forsake its own most vulnerable citizens in this way, placing no value on the lives of the poor and sick. So I am asking you: please call and email your senators right away, telling them you want them to stand up for those who can’t by demanding a better solution for American healthcare and voting against the AHCA as it is currently written.
Becker pointed out in another post, that he is not asking for handouts. He is trying to draw awareness to the silent poor and disabled people who don't have a platform to raise their concerns:
I am also so very touched by the people who want to help me personally. Thank you, but I am trying not to worry for myself – yet. My main focus was to put a face to poor and disabled people. Sometimes if we know someone, it makes us care more. I would have kicked myself if I didn't say anything and poor, sick and disabled people got screwed, like they often do.
Pretty soon poor people will just to all be on GoFundMe to pay for their medical care, if Republicans have their way. But their tax cuts!