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On April 23, 2023, The Philadelphia Inquirer published Southeast PA Healthcare Rights Committee Leader, Harrison Farina’s Letter to the Editor.

Medicaid checks

On April 1, our state resumed Medicaid eligibility checks, potentially cutting off more than a million Pennsylvanians from their Medicaid. The checks were suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic, but now they’re back, and it is estimated that 15 million people nationwide may be disenrolled. As a Medicaid recipient, I am terrified. If I lose my health care, I will not be able to afford mental health treatment. I rely on Medicaid and now must go back to proving over and over that I need it. We know the state has enough to provide everyone with health care. Cutting Medicaid will create a public health crisis that will exacerbate the crisis of hospital closures in Southeast Pennsylvania over the past year. If you’re a Medicaid recipient, concerned you may lose your coverage, and wish to get involved in fighting for your right to health care and that of others, please reach out to your representatives.

Harrison Farina, Philadelphia

On April 12th, 2023, published this Letter to the Editor by Put People First! PA leader, Nijmie Dzurinko.


Some 15 million Americans on Medicaid are now being thrown off the program. No elected official should stand for this.

By Nijmie Dzurinko | April 12, 2023

The biggest threat to Americans today isn’t from a foreign power. It’s from a long-running war on the poor by out of touch politicians and their Wall Street backers.

The latest attack on working Americans even has a name: “The Unwinding.”

If that sounds like the title of a horror movie to you, you’re not far off. Starting this April, state governments and welfare offices began cutting off Medicaid coverage from some 15 million people.

Under pandemic protocols, people getting healthcare through Medicaid had enjoyed some extended protection from the constant threat of losing their care. In exchange for increased federal funds, the federal government had required states not to kick people off the program.

Before these protections, people could be cut from Medicaid for many reasons — including slight changes in income, missing paperwork, glitches in the system, mistakes by state agencies, or simply delayed mail deliveries.

The stated purpose of all this surveillance is to prevent “waste, fraud, and abuse” by those on Medicaid. But as anyone who’s dealt with the American health care system can tell you, the real fraud comes from profiteering health care corporations, not patients.

For example the Centene Corporation, which acts as an intermediary between Medicaid and private insurers, recently had to pay a $140 million penalty for overbilling taxpayers in Ohio and Mississippi. More broadly, it’s the fundamental business model of all insurance giants to collect premiums while denying care.

Still, it’s working people who pay the biggest price. Late last year, both parties in Congress agreed to “unwind” federal Medicaid protections, making it possible for states to start stripping people of their health care starting April 1.

Sadly, this was no April fool’s joke.

The health care cut-off could be a killer for people with chronic health conditions that require blood work, medication, and specialist appointments. It’s a mental and behavioral health crisis in the making. And it will mean millions of Americans losing access to the doctors and health care providers that have come to understand their situation.

As pandemic protections expire, it’s those who were hit hardest by the pandemic itself that will bear the brunt of this disaster, too.

A report from the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival found that counties with the most people living in poverty had pandemic death rates 1.5 times higher than counties with the fewest people living in poverty. These counties — both urban and rural, black and white, red and blue — will be decimated by these Medicaid cuts.

Not all of those 15 million may lose care entirely, but all will be impacted.

Some may still qualify for Medicaid if they re-apply, but that puts the burden on people who shouldn’t have been thrown off in the first place. And about half will qualify for Affordable Care Act marketplace plans. But how many people do we already know on junk plans they will never use because of high deductibles and copays?

There are more than 140 million poor or near-poor people in the U.S. today, according to the Poor People’s Campaign. Of that number, more than 90 million receive health care through Medicaid. The “unwinding” of care for 15 million people, then, is a horror story of epic proportions.

The pandemic moratorium on cut-offs was an absolute minimum measure to maintain health care coverage for working people in this country. It’s the kind of thing that shows our government is perfectly capable of serving our people — when it chooses to.

With the overlapping health care crises of hospital closures and ballooning medical debt, our national wellbeing requires the extension of this moratorium and the expansion of Medicaid — not its “unwinding.”

No elected official, community leader, or person of good conscience who claims to stand on the side of the people should make excuses for this punishing policy violence.

Nijmie Dzurinko

Nijmie Dzurinko

Nijmie Dzurinko is co-founder and co-coordinator of Put People First PA! and a member of Poor People’s Campaign: A Call for Moral Revival. This op-ed was distributed by

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | Local, National & World News

Southwest PA Healthcare Rights Committee leader, Barbara White, had this Letter to the Editor published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on April 9th, 2023.

Medicaid disaster

9 Apr 2023

Thank you for “The Elder Law Guys: the Pandemic pause on Medicaid eligibility is about to end” (Mar. 27). This will be terrible for many people on Medicaid, especially those not aware of it. In Pennsylvania, 1.2 million people could be dropped from the program and wrongly lose their healthcare. Many can’t afford the deductibles for “Affordable”Care Act plans.

Healthcare is a human right, even though we don’t respect thatright in this country.

I’ve been on Medicaid and ACA, and Medicaid was better. The ACA made me poor. I am now on Medicare. I’m excluded from Medicaid as my Medicare supplement, because my income is slightly too high. I spend most of what I saved for retirement on “out of pocket” medical costs, so I’m shopping for groceries at the food bank, and glad it’s there! But the medical system has impoverished me. It always demandsmore money from us.

Please understand that we’re in poverty not due to individual mistakes or laziness. Poverty is a systemic problem in this country. T the kinds of policy decisions in December that will cause people to lose their healthcare. Poverty will now increase in our state & nationwide.


For Immediate Release: May 1st, 2023
Barbara White 412-381-6886 
Tammy Rojas 717-350-3224
Put People First! PA

Medicaid Appeal and Renewal Process Plagued By Problems as Cutoffs Loom for 1.2 Million PA Residents

Late Redetermination Letters, Confusing Eligibility Requirements, and Website Issues Cause Concern

Pennsylvania— Since the bipartisan decision by Congress to end the continuous coverage requirement for Medicaid on April 1st [1], Put People First! PA has collected numerous reports of errors and inconsistencies in the appeal and renewal process from residents across Pennsylvania who are in danger of having their benefits revoked.

With the continuous coverage deadline’s expiration, over 15 million people in the U.S. are facing the prospect of becoming uninsured or being forced to purchase private health insurance plans with high copays and deductibles, including 1 million Pennsylvania residents who must navigate a complex and time-consuming eligibility process that is marred by bureaucratic issues.

Everyone who gets a “redetermination letter” from the Department of Human Services has the right to file an appeal – Put People First! PA is organizing to ensure that people are informed and able to exercise that right.

One disabled PA resident reached out to Put People First! PA after receiving a letter stating he would lose his Medicaid coverage based on financial ineligibility, as the eligibility requirements include money saved for retirement but do not subtract personal debt or medical expenses. The resident suffers from stage 3 kidney disease and would be unable to afford treatment with his current income, which is only slightly above the cut-off. When the resident received their redetermination letter, they had only 1 day left to complete an appeal.

A person on Medicaid has only 15 days from the day the letter is sent – not received – to file an appeal and keep their healthcare; if they receive their cutoff letter after 15 days, they lose their Medicaid coverage. If they appeal, it could take months to get their healthcare back.

“This just seems like a very unfair process,” said Tammy Rojas, resident of Lancaster and member of Put People First! PA. “Many poor people on Medicaid are receiving redetermination letters they have difficulty understanding, and are being given much less time to respond than they were promised. We know DHS is understaffed, but we reject these cutoffs for putting many vulnerable PA residents in an impossible situation.”

PA residents and members who are filing for renewal of their benefits have encountered similar problems. PA Director of Human Services Valerie Arkoosh claims that residents will receive their renewal packets 30 days prior to the renewal date, however one member of Put People First! PA reports receiving their packet on April 13th with a postmark date of April 7th – and a renewal date of April 30th. Then, when they went to the website to renew, the website was inoperable.

Put People First! PA estimates these bureaucratic hurdles will prevent many thousands of eligible residents from renewing or successfully appealing to maintain their Medicaid coverage during a historic cost-of-living crisis.

That is why Put People First! PA is demanding that no one lose their healthcare; that PA should instead 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 law to establish an office of the Public Healthcare Advocate [2] for Pennsylvania to provide support for residents struggling with healthcare bureaucracy. 


For more information on the Public Healthcare Advocate (2021-2022 House Session HB1828), see the policy report released by Put People First! PA in August 2021.