September 19, 2018



Put People First! PA holds
Statewide Week of Action against Healthcare Profiteers

Last week, September 10th-17th, Pennsylvanians experiencing poverty, disability, or difficulty meeting their basic needs held public demonstrations as part of a Statewide Week of Action organized by healthcare rights organization, Put People First! PA. Dozens gathered outside of healthcare businesses and intermediaries including Managed Care Organizations (MCOs), insurance companies, nursing facilities, and private prison healthcare providers to call attention to profiteering in the healthcare system. Residents demanded the establishment of a state-level Public Advocate to resolve complaints about private, for-profit health insurance companies, MCOs and other healthcare organizations, especially those that take state funding.

On September 10th, members of Put People First! PA (PPF) held a call-in day targeting Gateway Insurance to advocate for PPF Member Kim Atland, of the York County Healthcare Rights Committee. For years, Gateway Insurance has denied him full access to all components of the special shoes that he needs to move without discomfort. Kim is disabled and has had 51 reconstructive surgeries. After our call-in day, Gateway informed Kim that they had re-assessed their decision and the treatment he had been denied would now be covered.

On September 15th, PPF members held public demonstrations outside two ManorCare facilities on opposite sides of the state, in Lancaster and in Pittsburgh. ManorCare is a network of nursing and rehabilitation centers and was just acquired by ProMedica Health System and real estate investment trust, Welltower Inc., for $4.4 billion dollars. The Lancaster ManorCare facility received a one-star health inspection rating from the state. Earlier this year, the facility failed to report a rape to the State Office of Aging.

Put People First! PA members shared stories of family who have been mistreated in ManorCare facilities. Says PPF member Anne Winslow, a chaplain in nursing homes across the greater Lancaster area, “Neither the staff or the residents should be subjected to such treatment by the profiteers. The profits that fill their coffers can more than withstand the hiring of additional staff to give the residents the care they deserve and bring their buildings up to livable conditions.”

On September 17th, PPF members held a demonstration at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown where family members have experienced unsatisfactory care. The hospital currently has a 2-out-of-5 star rating from which puts it in the bottom 30% of hospitals.

“Whether it’s incarcerated people, people on Medicaid, people with disabilities, working people, youth or elders, profiteers are present in all forms of care and every level of the system,” remarked Kim Altland of York County.

Put People First! PA gives voice to everyday poor and dispossessed Pennsylvanians who are struggling to meet their basic needs. We have members in 17 counties and Healthcare Rights Committees in Pittsburgh, Johnstown, Altoona, York, Lancaster and Philadelphia, crossing the typical racial and urban/suburban/rural divides. Our Healthcare is a Human Right campaign is working towards universal, publicly financed healthcare for everyone in the state.

“No human being should be housed in a substandard facility with underpaid staff, or be denied necessary treatment. Governor Wolf should support the establishment of an office of the Public Advocate that can pursue healthcare complaints and advocate for better treatment for Pennsylvania residents,” said Zachary Hershman, PPF Member from Philadelphia.



The Fall 2018/Winter 2019 Keystone News is here!

The Keystone News is Put People First! PA’s entirely member-produced newsletter, coordinated by our all-volunteer Media and Communications Team. This edition features updates on our Healthcare Is a Human Right Campaign and how we’re building a Nonviolent Medicaid Army, profiles of our Mother Jones Leadership Program participants, art and poetry, and updates from the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, along with other content! Download and share!



Living in poverty is hard. It’s a daily struggle to survive.

Every year, the Harrisburg power holders attack the poor of Pennsylvania by trying to force hard-working folks off of Medicaid (welfare insurance) and SNAP (food stamps).

Unfortunately, this year is no different.

House Bills 2138 and HB 1659 would impose burdensome work requirements, time limits, and paperwork on people receiving Medicaid and SNAP (food stamps), two critical public programs that guarantee healthcare and food to millions of Pennsylvanians.

These bills are NOT about promoting work like politicians say they are. They are designed to kick people off of Medicaid and SNAP and to pin blame for poverty on poor people rather than on the economic policies that create poverty and inequality and deny people fundamental rights like healthcare and food.

Four out of five Pennsylvania families on Medicaid and about half of families on SNAP are working families. Most people who get healthcare and food through these programs are children, elders and people with disabilities who are unable to work. Most working-age, “able-bodied” adults who are not employed cannot work jobs because they work at home as unpaid caregivers or because decent jobs and affordable daycare are not available where they live.

If politicians were serious about promoting work, they would guarantee good jobs, healthcare, childcare and eldercare as public goods. They wouldn’t take away people’s food and medicine. Remember, we the people pay their salaries and enable them to live comfortably.

Poverty is the sin, not those individuals living in it. Everybody has a right to live. We the poor of Pennsylvania are putting our politicians on notice. Stop ‘poor shaming’ people, calling us stupid, lazy and irresponsible. Focus instead on ending systemic poverty and building a healthcare system and an economy that meet everyone’s needs.

It’s up to everyday people in Pennsylvania to hold politicians and all power-holders accountable. That’s why Put People First! Pennsylvania is organizing in our communities, building a Nonviolent Medicaid Army and participating in the Poor People’s Campaign. Join us at, and

Kaiser Family Foundation ( and Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (

Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival
Media Advisory for February 5, 2018

Nijmie Dzurinko

Poor People, Clergy and Activists to go to the Capitol, Demanding Moral, Just Political Agenda; Vow Historic Wave of Nonviolent Civil Disobedience, Direct Action This Spring

[Harrisburg, PA] – Poor and disenfranchised people, clergy and moral leaders from across Pennsylvania will join the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival Monday.
Poor people, clergy and activists will hold a news conference at the state capitol to serve notice on state legislative leaders that their failure to address the enmeshed evils of systemic racism, poverty, the war economy, ecological devastation and America’s distorted national morality will be met this spring with six weeks of direct action – including one of the largest waves of nonviolent civil disobedience in U.S. history.

The Pennsylvania delegation of impacted people and moral leaders will deliver a letter to politicians highlighting dozens of racist voter suppression laws passed nationwide in recent years and a stark jump in the percentage of people living in poverty. They will vow to risk arrest beginning Mother’s Day if politicians fail to adopt a moral and just agenda.
The news conference in Pennsylvania will be one of over 30 at state capitols and the U.S. Capitol Monday, marking the first nationwide action by the campaign since it launched on Dec. 4, 50 years to the day after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and others called for the original Poor People’s Campaign.

WHO: Poor, disenfranchised people, clergy and moral leaders joined by grassroots, community and labor organizations.
WHAT: News conference and letter delivery at PA Capitol and in over 30 state capitols, U.S. Capitol as part of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival
WHEN: Monday, Feb. 5, 2018, 11 a.m.
WHERE: Capitol Rotunda

The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival is the product of a decade of organizing by grassroots groups, religious leaders and others to end systemic racism, poverty, the war economy and ecological devastation. Expected to be a multi-year effort, the campaign will unite the poor, disenfranchised, and marginalized, combining direct action with grassroots organizing, voter registration, power building and nonviolent civil disobedience.