The summer marked the high activity time in our Medicaid Cutoffs Organizing Drive. Across the state, Put People First! PA held 7 People’s Clinics, where we offered blood pressure screenings and benefits sign-ups, and supported people across the state to file 15 Medicaid applications! We also held 12 Door-Knockings, where we went into our neighborhoods and knocked on doors to alert people of the Medicaid Cut-offs and invite them to join the fight against the cuts. We did People’s Clinics and Door Knockings in Westmoreland County, Oakhurst in Johnstown, Evergreen Manors in Altoona, Plymouth, Berwick, Feasterville-Trevose, Upper Darby, and Jenkintown.
We hosted and participated in organizing exchanges across regions of our state as well as nationally. Put People First! PA members participated in two national organizing exchanges with the Nonviolent Medicaid Army in Wyoming and Georgia. NEPA hosted SEPA members in Berwick in August. Every Healthcare Rights Committee was out base-building at least once a month – often more – the entire summer.
Central-Appalachia Healthcare Rights Committee Co-Coordinator, Ron reflected, “By the end of the summer, people started to know and recognize us. If you continue showing up trying to do good, eventually somebody’s going to listen. That’s what we mean when we say “political center of gravity”. We’ll be a political center of gravity when our communities are looking to us, when our powerholders recognize us, and we are able to absorb all of the poor and dispossessed. As our lives get harder (inflation, the rich getting richer while we get poorer), people look towards something and we hope that we’ve made a relationship with people so that when they look towards something, it’s towards us.”
NEPA/SEPA Basebuilding August – LINK
August 19th – On Saturday members from the Southeast and Northeast Healthcare Rights Committees held an organizing exchange in Berwick PA. They knocked doors listening to people’s experiences with the healthcare system, spread awareness about the Medicaid cut-offs and how we are fighting back, and mobilized toward the Nonviolent Medicaid Army Week of Action September 17-23.
Berwick is one of many places around the state that lost their hospital due to healthcare profiteers but the people are rising up. SEPA is no stranger to hospital closures either – the Crozer system was hit hard by private equity ownership as was Hahnemann and we’ve also seen full closures at Jennersville and Brandywine Hospitals and partial closures at Mercy and Einstein.
We’re uniting across lines of division, building leaders and learning as we lead to take on the system that puts profits over our lives! Join us!
CAPA People’s Clinic – August 18th – LINK
Another successful People’s Clinic held by Put People First – PA and the Put People First PA Central/Appalachia Healthcare Rights Committee. We made some new contacts, and heard from Altoona residents and their struggles to get the healthcare they so desperately deserve.
In particular we met a veteran who has been trying to provide himself with dentures for 17 years. Could you imagine living with no teeth for 17 years after serving your country? Unfortunately this story is not unique here in America, and you may be the one struggling to provide you or someone you love with care.
If you believe healthcare is a human right, and want to be a part of the change, then all I have to say is, We are the ones we have been waiting for!
SCPA Tabling – LINK (see photos at link)
Today the Put People First – PA South Central Healthcare Rights Committee along with PA Debt Collective joined Lititz Chooses Love at their Resource Center in Manheim, PA, where they have a free food pantry and gender affirming clothing bank.
Today we heard from people who have experienced being cut off of Medicaid, or who are concerned that they may be cut off from Medicaid. People also shared stories of their overall experiences with the healthcare system, outstanding hospital bills and medical debt and what they feel should change regarding the healthcare system.
SEPA Murphy’s Giving Market – LINK – photos
This Summer & Fall, the Southeast PA Healthcare Rights Committee teamed up one to two times a month with Murphy’s Giving Market in Upper Darby. As community members waited to pick up fresh produce and other basic necessities, PPF-PA members gave blood pressure screenings, helped with benefit sign ups and talked with people about their healthcare experiences.
Murphy’s Giving Market is just down the road from Delaware County Memorial Hospital, where PPF-PA members have been taking action to protest its takeover and subsequent closure by a private equity firm. “We talked to so many people who had stories from DCMH – it was somewhere they got care, got signed up for medicaid in the past. Now it takes multiple buses to get to the next nearest hospital, and people are afraid that in a crisis, they won’t make it. It doesn’t have to be this way!” Southeast PA member Jamie shared.
SWPA MOA – LINK
Members of the Southwest PA Healthcare Rights Committee tabled at the Mission of Mercy clinic at the Convention Center in Pittsburgh PA on October 27th & 28th. We met people who had waited in line for 3 hours or more to receive dental, hearing or vision services. Many of these folks are on Medicaid/welfare but needed something that it doesn’t now provide, so we spoke about our work to restore the Adult Dental benefit for people on Medicaid. Other people spoke about not having insurance at all or not being able to afford the service, even if it’s ‘covered’ by their insurance. Why are our teeth, eyes and ears separated from the rest of our bodies for purposes of insurance? It makes no sense and we’re fighting for Medicaid for all and the human right to healthcare to overcome these insane holes in our system.
We also met people at the convention center on November 18th for the Urban League Thanksgiving food distribution. We spoke to hundreds of people who agreed that healthcare is a human right, we need Medicaid for all and a Public healthcare advocate for Pennsylvania. People also wrote on our storyboard – “How would your life be different if healthcare was a human right?” We wrote 72 postcards to the Governor, 37 to State Reps and 17 to State Senators to push for these demands and to make sure the next state budget has enough money to restore the Adult Dental Benefit for people on Medicaid.
NVMA Organizing Exchange in Georgia – LINK
In early June, Georgia NVMA hosted leaders in Augusta from Indiana, Vermont and Pennsylvania to build our base; identify, develop and unite leaders; and hold the first ever People’s Clinic in GA! In Georgia up to 500,000 people are projected to lose their Medicaid this year. A growing army is fighting back. This movement is national, get on board!