Testimony of Ryan Hampton
before the Democratic National Convention Platform Drafting Committee
July 2, 2020
Thank you, Mayor Bottoms; I’m grateful to be here this evening. Five and a half years ago, I was homeless, hopelessly addicted to heroin, and desperate for help. I knocked on every door in my community, going from facility to facility to try to find treatment. I put my name on waiting lists that stretched for years, went to recovery support groups, and just tried to hang on. Finally, I was given a chance by a facility that accepted Medicaid. And I can honestly say that without Medicaid, I likely would be dead today. In the last few years, I have lost dozens of friends—people I loved in my community—who were as desperate, as motivated, and as driven to seek help as I was. They died of preventable overdoses because our healthcare system failed them.
I did survive. And I am here to tell you that if we are to restore the soul of America, we must make addiction and mental health recovery a top priority. Survival should never be a matter of luck: it should be an opportunity extended to every person who wants it, the moment they seek help. Access to life-saving recovery support services, treatment, and harm reduction are largely built from community based efforts, such as peer supports and recovery community organizations. Instead of massive investments into the community and healthcare supports that saved my life and are backed by well supported evidence, our communities are experiencing rollbacks, setbacks, and an increase in overdose deaths.
The Trump administration’s repeated efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act results in the deaths of people like me and my friends. When I see the administration’s repeated attacks on healthcare, I think—that could have been me. I lived because I was lucky. More than 350 people die every day due to drugs and alcohol. I am not here today to put myself forward, but to call your attention to the crisis that was already claiming hundreds of thousands of lives before we were hit by COVID-19: the drug epidemic. We are now fighting on two fronts: coronavirus and addiction combined are a deadly force. Experts are already predicting that we face losing another 70,000 people to overdose and suicide this year alone related to COVID. At the same time, isolation, fear, and hopelessness place people with substance use disorder at increased risk. As the various arms of our healthcare system are overwhelmed, now more than ever it is incredibly apparent that we need a new deal to support addiction and mental health recovery in America—and fast.
Our party’s platform must address the many social determinants of health that ultimately lead to substance use disorder. We must prioritize long-term recovery support services, evidence based prevention, treatment, and harm reduction services that are proven to work and curb overdose deaths.
We can get ahead of the curve by listening to, supporting, and investing in the thousands of front-line providers and organizations that have spent decades building trust in their communities; prioritizing policy developed with evidence and in collaboration with people with lived experience in recovery; effective criminal justice reform, increasing health equity for all communities, expanding the peer recovery workforce; and finally enforcing the Mental Health and Addiction Parity Act of 2008.
We can accomplish all of this. Together, we can indeed restore the soul of our nation. But to have a soul, you’ve got to have a heart. And that means action from day one of a new Administration and a new Congress that finally offers robust solutions to save lives and end this overdose crisis, once and for all. Thank you.
DNC Announces Platform Drafting Committee Members
Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chair Tom Perez announced the appointment of the 15-person Platform Drafting Committee which is responsible for developing and managing the process through which the Democratic Party’s National Platform is established. According to DNC rules, the members of the drafting committee are appointed by the DNC Chair.
Chair Perez also named Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms to serve as Chair of the Drafting Committee. “This is a challenging time for our country, and the American people are hungry for Democratic leadership. That’s why it’s critical for us to engage a wide array of stakeholders on the issues that matter most to working families,” said DNC Chair Tom Perez. “Crafting our party platform is important work, and I’m confident that the members of this committee will engage Americans in a substantive dialogue of ideas and solutions that will articulate our party’s vision for the country and mobilize voters in every community to elect Joe Biden. Democrats are fighting to build a better future for all, and the American people know we’re the only party that has their back.”
“Repairing the damage that Donald Trump has done to this country will be the work of generations, but it begins with electing Joe Biden this fall and implementing what will be without a doubt the most progressive platform in our party’s history. I am honored to chair the committee that will draft it and am looking forward to the work ahead of us,” said Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.
The appointed members of the Platform Drafting Committee are:
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (GA), Chair
Dr. Tony Allen (DE)
Stuart Appelbaum (NY)
Congresswoman Katherine Clark (MA)
Senator Tammy Duckworth (IL)
Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia (TX)
Dr. Heather Gautney (NY)
Don Graves (OH)
Congresswoman Deb Haaland (NM)
Analilia Mejia (NJ)
Josh Orton (WI)
State Senator Jose Javier Rodriguez (FL)
Julianne Smith (DC)
Richard Trumka (PA)
Fmr. Secretary Tom Vilsack (IA)
Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Ex-Officio Member – 2016 Platform Drafting Committee
As provided in our Rules, Carmel Martin, Senior Policy Advisor for the Biden Campaign, will serve as a non-voting member of the Committee.
In addition to the members of the Drafting Committee, the DNC also announced that Andrew Grossman and Leah Bess Moody will be leading the outreach efforts to engage Democrats in the platform process. Andrew Grossman will serve as Platform Director, a role he has held for the past two conventions. Leah Bess Moody will serve as Platform Deputy Director.