We’re continuing our summer basebuilding activities and preparing for the week of action! Across the state our Healthcare Rights Committees have been busy connecting across difference to fight for Healthcare as a Human Right!
Northeast PA/Southeast PA Basebuilding Exchange
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.
South Central Tabling
Our South Central Healthcare Rights Committee in partnership with PA Debt Collective did some tabling in Hanover at the Family First Health Center, talking with people about the medicaid cuts off.
The Central Appalachia Healthcare Rights Committee held another successful People’s Clinic meeting and hearing from residents in Altoona on their struggles getting the healthcare they need.
“Nonviolent Medicaid Army” Takes Action Around The Country
From People’s Clinics to demonstrations outside Medicaid appeals courts,
Medicaid recipients raise their voices to demand a halt to Medicaid cut-offs during “Week Of Action” beginning September 17th
HARRISBURG – During the week of September 17th, the Nonviolent Medicaid Army will mobilize across the United States to demand an immediate end to the Medicaid cutoffs currently underway. Chapters of the Nonviolent Medicaid Army in Wyoming, Texas, Wisconsin, Indiana, New York, Georgia, Vermont and Pennsylvania are helping file appeals for those targeted by these cuts and holding actions outside the appeal hearings, organizing health screenings at free People’s Clinics in local neighborhoods to raise awareness about the cut-offs and appeals process, and taking action with their legislators and elected representatives.
In Pennsylvania, members of the Nonviolent Medicaid Army will caravan from five regions – Pittsburgh, Johnstown, Lancaster, Berwick, and Delco – bringing 5 different panels of a “Medicaid Stories Quilt” together from across the state. The group will converge September 20th in Harrisburg to deliver a petition to Governor Shapiro and Secretary Arkoosh demanding an immediate end to the Medicaid cutoffs and an expansion of Medicaid to cover all Pennsylvania residents and families, a restoration of the Medicaid Adult Dental Benefit that was cut in 2011, and for the legislature to pass a law establishing an office of the Public Healthcare Advocate for Pennsylvania. The press event in Harrisburg will include speeches from directly affected residents, with photo opportunities of the massive Medicaid quilt.
Event Times and Locations for PA:
Southwest PA: Tuesday September 19th, 12 noon – location TBD; caravan to Central-Appalachia launches at 1:00 pm
Central-Appalachia PA: Tuesday September 19th, 6 pm – First Lutheran Church at 419 Vine St. in Johnstown, caravan to Harrisburg launches at 7:00 pm
Northeast PA: Tuesday September 19th, 6 pm – outside of the closed Berwick Hospital at 701 E. 16th St., Berwick PA; caravan to Harrisburg launches at 7:00 pm
Southeast PA: Tuesday, September 19th, 5 pm – outside of Delaware County Memorial Hospital at 501 N. Lansdowne Ave. Caravan to Harrisburg launches the following morning, September 20th at 9:00 am from Naylor’s Run Park – 500 Beverly Road, Upper Darby
South Central PA: Wednesday September 20th, 9 am – Reservoir Park, 832 E. Orange St. across from Lancaster County Prison, caravan to Harrisburg launches at 10:00 am
Harrisburg: Wednesday September 20th, 12:30 pm East Wing Rotunda, PA State Capitol Complex
Automatic re-enrollment of Medicaid has ended after a bipartisan agreement included in the December 2022 omnibus spending bill signed by President Biden. Already more than 5.5 million people have been cut nationally – while over 154,000 people have been disenrolled in Pennsylvania, including 38,000 children and 115,000 adults. 
In August, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that it was intervening to pause Medicaid cutoffs in 12 States out of concern that a high percentage of terminations were for procedural reasons (such as failure to complete renewal paperwork) rather than ineligibility for Medicaid.
It is unclear whether Pennsylvania was among those 12 states, as the list was not made public. According to an August 9th letter from CMS Deputy Secretary Sally Kozak, Pennsylvania reported that only 9% of beneficiaries were terminated for procedural reasons during the month of May  – however according to the Hospital/Health System Association of Pennsylvania (HAP), in Pennsylvania, about 44 percent of those terminated in PA overall were terminated for procedural reasons. 
Healthcare rights advocates and Medicaid recipients are concerned by this massive discrepancy and have sought clarification from Gov. Shapiro and Secretary Arkoosh, while continuing to challenge the legitimacy of cutting anyone from the Medicaid rolls.
“There are no ‘good states’ and ‘bad states’ when it comes to cutting people off of their healthcare,” remarked Sarah Weintraub of Wisconsin. “Every state that is cutting people off of their healthcare is committing policy murder.”
“We reject the idea that only some people ‘really need’ Medicaid and others should be forced to pay high out of pocket costs including premiums, co-pays and deductibles. Almost half of this country is poor or near poor – we all need Medicaid!” stated Denita Jones of Texas.
Weintraub and Jones are both members of the Nonviolent Medicaid Army national Coordinating Committee.
In Pennsylvania, Put People First! PA has been collecting stories from directly affected residents for months, supporting them in filing appeals and preparing to mobilize for the Caravan to Harrisburg on September 20th.
“My children and myself are Medicaid recipients. I’m worried myself and my children will lose our coverage. My children have asthma and need to be able to get their medication and be able to see the doctor”, said Joanie Dickson of Lancaster, PA.
“My one son is autistic and was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia about a year ago. He is only 9 years old. I don’t know how our family would get through if we didn’t have Medicaid.”, said Blanca Arroyo-Perez of York County, PA. “The Medicaid we do have doesn’t cover all his medications which is more than enough of what we can handle financially. I can’t imagine how worse it would be if we all of a sudden lost our Medicaid all together.”
Background: The Nonviolent Medicaid Army is a growing militant force of the poor and dispossessed, united across identities, regions, races and issues, modeled after Dr. King’s “nonviolent army of the poor” from the first Poor People’s Campaign.
Lucile Ellen Fisher, was born in Lancaster County PA at St. Joseph’s hospital on February 26th 1955. She left this world Wednesday August 16, 2023, at 68 years old, at Reading hospital in Berks County.
She is survived by her children,Tammy Rosing (daughter) and her husband Matthew Rosing, Charles Snyder (son) and his wife Patricia Snyder, Loretta James (daughter) and her husband Allen James and Crystal Fisher (daughter). Her grandchildren, Mckenzie Snyder, Cassidy James & Isaac James, and Elliott (Snyder). Her Siblings Gloria Weaver (sister) and Lee Wiley (brother).
Lucile (Lucy) was a loving mother, very caring, giving, welcoming, and a family oriented person. She was born into poverty and was never able to escape it, no matter how hard she worked, often working multiple jobs at any given time period throughout her life.
Lucy comes from a poor working class southern background. Her mother, Doris L Wiley, was born in Georgia, married and moved to Lancaster County PA with her husband, at a very young age, mostly to escape poverty.
Lucy has struggled all throughout her life to get her basic human needs met. Severe health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer all run in her immediate family thus making her at High risk to develop those health conditions, which she did.
Over the years, as she aged, and was unable to hold down the level of work she did throughout her life she went on disability which made it financially hard to cover healthcare costs and she only received what the system deemed she was “worthy” of receiving.
Besides her struggle with meeting her healthcare needs she also struggled with housing insecurity at times in her life. In adulthood she moved back home with her parents for a time, with her two children in tow, while going through a separation and divorce of her first husband.
She remarried a few years later, had two more children and they moved around at times through the years as things got tough. Either because income changed, or a major expense or emergency happened, or the slumlord let their place of residence deteriorate.
Despite her constant struggle all her life, working the majority of her waking life and not getting her needs met she still held values of love, family and kindness. This is more than evident with what she last wrote to one of her daughters in agreement with something her daughter said about the system and the way we operate the world.
These are those final words, may we take heed to what Lucy is saying to us and join a movement to end the suffering we all face…..
“Very true. Too much greed in the world, too much hate, too much of us against one another. Love one another, help one another out, no matter what color you are, no matter who you are, what race. If you ever see a homeless person on the street, give them a couple dollars. They can’t help that they don’t have any place to go – the rent is so high, what do you expect with the government being so greedy, so we just gotta pull together.
“Love one another, keep our faith in God and care for one another. If your neighbor needs help, try to help them out. If you see an animal on the street, give it shelter. If you see a crippled person on the street that is crossing the street or needs help, please help them.
“Sometimes I need help getting in my house after arriving back from dialysis and I have to wait on somebody to help me or call 911 because my porch has steps. It’s hard to get somebody to do that for me. When you’re old and you get home, a lotta people don’t want to help you out and say the hell with you, so just look out for people and love one another.” -Lucy Fisher
Below are personal reflections from Lucy’s children, grandchildren and son-in-laws expressing their love for Lucy and what losing her feels like and how it’s affecting each of them.
Tammy Rosing, daughter, Lancaster County
When my momma was recently diagnosed with a tumor mass on her kidney it scared me. I felt something deep down inside that the clock was ticking but I stayed hopefully and prayed that she would get what she needed in time and be with us awhile longer, but alas that didn’t come to pass.
During the weeks following that diagnosis and before she passed I did a lot of going down memory lane and found myself listening to that Dolly Parton song “Coat of Many Colors” my favorite line from the song is “I know we had no money, but I was rich as I could be”.
We may have been poor but it wasn’t because our momma didn’t work hard, she actually worked multiple jobs at one time, and I know she wishes she had more time to be with us kids.
If we organized society via a system that puts the needs of the people over profits our mother would still be alive. This system we live all our lives under not only has the majority of people struggling to make ends meet while a few hoard all the wealth they gain from our struggle, this system also shapes us into the people we become and forces us down paths that lead us to the decisions we make.
My momma began to understand all this and why she supported the organizing work with Put People First! PA, The National Union of the Homeless, Freedom Church of the Poor and the PA Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival that myself and my husband are a part of.
Momma I never doubted you wanted me. I knew and heard stories about how happy you were to be a first time mom, you really wanted to be a mom. We may have gone through a series of trials and tribulations but I never truly doubted your love for me and I hope you never once doubted my love for you.
I love you and I will miss you until I see you again. Please give nanny a big hug and kiss for me. I will do my best to keep the promises I made to you the day you passed. I can only do what’s within my control. I will do my best to look after my siblings and make sure we stay connected…. Love you momma.
~ Tammy has struggled for years to get her healthcare needs met. She worries the longer it takes to meet those needs the worse her health condition will become and she struggles with the thought of what the outcome will be for her if she doesn’t receive the care she needs.
Charles Snyder, son, Berks County
When I was told my mother was in the hospital I thought it was something simple that she would be home soon. Within a day I was told it was serious this time and I still did not think that I would lose her.
The third day when everyone was asking me to come to hospital and I finally did
and saw her my heart almost stopped. She did not look herself and the panic set in and I knew I wasn’t ready. The next day we were asked to meet at the hospital by the doctors I did not want to go.
For the first time I realized I was gonna lose my mother and I have not been the son I should of been and I begged God for another chance. That day my mother was gone and I realized, as I looked around, I was given another chance by her to reconnect with my sisters.
She held on long enough to bring us together and showed her love for all us until the end and that’s who my mother, the most loving person I will ever know, was.
~ Charles and his wife currently live in a motel. They live paycheck to paycheck. He has health insurance through his job at McDonald’s and his wife isn’t covered and is uninsured.
Loretta James (daughter) & Family, York County
I love and miss you so much mom. Thank you for being a great Mom and Grandma. RIP! Love, Loretta James, daughter
I miss and love you Grandma. Thank you for the gifts you gave to me. Love, Isaac James, 8 yrs old, grandson
I miss and love you Grandma. Love, Cassidy James, 5 Years old, granddaughter
I love and miss you Mom. We all could learn a lot from how kind you were. Love, Allen James, son in-law
~ Loretta and her husband each work 40-60 hours a week, live paycheck to paycheck to make ends meet.They work opposite schedules so they are sure at least one of them is home with their two children. Which leads to limited time together as a family and the means to do most family activities.
Crystal Fisher, Daughter, Berks County
It just hurts and you know the kind of hurt that’s kind of indescribable like you have words for it but you can’t find them, you know the feeling but you can’t tell them where it hurts.
You just know it hurts all over. Have you ever gone to the hospital for pain management and you’re like, I know exactly where it hurts.
It’s my knee but with this one it’s like I don’t know, Jesus, it’s my knee, my heart, my chest, my back, my shoulder, my face, my head, my mind, my throat.
Some days I feel sick out of nowhere. My stomach hurts. It’s the kind of hurt that takes your breath away or wakes you up in the middle of the night and you can’t quite go back to sleep.
It’s the kind of hurt that makes you slide down in the back of the shower and you can relate to those scenes in the movies. Where you’re like, who cries like that? Well now you do. It’s the kind of hurt that on the days when you’re so happy all of that goes away because there’s something missing, something missing from every good day. 💔
~ Crystal was living with her mother and working two full-time jobs while her mom was still with us. She is now experiencing the loss of one of her full-time paychecks. She’s losing her caregiver paycheck from being her moms main caregiver as well as her mom’s monthly social security check. Which means if the apt complex she lives in doesn’t allow her brother and his wife to move in with her she will be facing homelessness because of the loss of her mother.
Mckenzie Snyder, granddaughter, Lancaster County
I’m gonna miss you. I didn’t want to lose you. You were always there for me when I needed you. I’m gonna miss everything about you.💔😢😭 RIP Grandma
Matthew Rosing, son in-law, Lancaster County
Lucy was a bright shining light in this world. She made me feel 100% accepted and loved in her family. I’ve never been so accepted by someone from the door. Her death was caused by this greedy profit driven system. She could’ve had many more years with us if she could’ve gotten the treatment she deserved. But due to greedy healthcare profiteers she is no longer with us. Lucy you are counted with the Saints. We have to organize. We have to fight!
~ Matthew is Lucy’s son in law. He is currently on many meds for mental and physical health that could be changed if he was able to access the newer treatments and alternative medicines. He is currently on Medicaid, which is very limited with treatment options.
Sign our petition to demand a stop the Medicaid Cut-offs!
RESIDENTS DEMAND GOV. SHAPIRO HALT MEDICAID CUTOFFS AFTER 12 STATES REPRIMANDED FOR FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH FEDERAL RULES
CMS (CENTERS FOR MEDICARE AND MEDICAID SERVICES) CONCERNED THAT TOO MANY CUTOFFS ARE ‘PROCEDURAL’, WHILE NEARLY 50% OF MEDICAID CUTOFFS IN PA ARE FOR PROCEDURAL REASONS
PENNSYLVANIA – Members of Put People First! PA and residents of Pennsylvania are demanding that Governor Shapiro immediately cease Medicaid cutoffs across the State, after CNN reported on July 20th that 12 states have already had to pause terminating residents from Medicaid when it became apparent that a plurality of those terminations were only for procedural reasons where enrollees either failed to complete their renewal paperwork or were unable to meet burdensome paperwork requirements.
The bipartisan decision to end the continuous coverage requirement for Medicaid tasks States with redetermining enrollee eligibility, but CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) is worried that when states terminate people for procedural reasons they have not definitively ascertained that those enrollees are no longer eligible for Medicaid, according to Daniel Tsai, director of the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services as reported by CNN.
Of the more than 90,000 PA residents that have lost their Medicaid coverage already since the cut-offs began, just under half have been disenrolled for failure to return paperwork by the deadline, according to reporting by Kate Giammarise for 90.5 WESA.
Put People First! PA, who has held actions, events and free health clinics across Pennsylvania over the past months  to call attention to the cutoffs and to educate impacted residents as to their rights, has heard directly from scores of residents who have been cut off from Medicaid for purely procedural reasons, regardless of their eligibility. Many others have been cut off of Medicaid for making a few dollars over the income limit or for having too much in their savings or retirement accounts.
“We are asking Gov. Shapiro, is Pennsylvania included on this list of those States who are pausing disenrollments? And if not, why are we continuing with this broken process that will leave hundreds of thousands of eligible Pennsylvanians without insurance, and is now drawing scrutiny from federal regulators?” said Barbara White, resident of Pittsburgh and member of Put People First! PA.
Residents of PA have shared their stories with Put People First! PA, highlighting the injustice of the cutoffs, the necessity of Medicaid, and underscoring how narrowly constructed eligibility requirements systematically exclude residents from their human right to healthcare.
“My children and myself are Medicaid recipients. I’m worried myself and my children will lose our coverage. My children have asthma and need to be able to get their medication and be able to see the doctor” said Joanie Dickenson, a resident of Lancaster County PA.
“My services will be cut soon. I am only 24 Years old. Will I make it to 50!? We have to fight back because who else is going to do it!” said Savannah Sutton, of York PA.
Rebecca Reitenbach, of Williamsport, shares her story: “My kiddo’s therapist only takes Medicaid. Anyone who has had any kind of mental health issue knows how important it is to develop a trusting relationship with your therapist. This therapist has supported them through self harm recovery, their ongoing struggle with an eating disorder, filing a PFA against their father, suicidal ideation, and the trauma of a sexual assault. But these Medicaid cuts have interrupted their access to this literally lifesaving healthcare. I make “too much” money to qualify, and so even after adding them to my private insurance, my child has lost access to the cornerstone of their mental healthcare.”
Natalie Ricci, a resident of Butler County shares why Medicaid is important to her and why we need to expand Medicaid to ALL PA residents: “I actually had Medicaid until May 2023, and they were wonderful and covered everything, even my 30k/month rare disease drug Isturisa. However, I was legally deemed disabled and transferred to Medicare, and I am facing Medicare refusing to cover TWO of my necessary drugs. It makes no sense! Covered under low income state insurance Medicaid but not covered on Medicare once disabled?!”
It is due to the experiences of thousands of people like these that Put People First! PA is demanding that no one lose their healthcare: that PA should instead invest the more than $8 billion budget surplus to expand Medicaid to cover ALL PA residents, fully restore the Medicaid Adult Dental Benefit that was cut in 2011, and that the legislature should pass a bill to establish an office of the Public Healthcare Advocate  for Pennsylvania to provide support for residents fighting for their healthcare rights.
Put People First! PA will participate in a national week of action with the Nonviolent Medicaid Army to fight Medicaid cut-offs September 17-23. Plans are being made to deliver petition signatures and stories from more than 20 “Medicaid Mondays” (social media drive) to Governor Shapiro and Secretary Arkoosh.
 Medicaid disenrollments paused in a dozen states after failure to comply with federal rules