January 28, 2019

Press Contact:

Tammy Rojas  
(717) 205-3230
Lancaster Healthcare Rights Committee
Put People First! PA

Lancaster Residents Dig in for a Fight To Keep UPMC Open
Put People First! PA – Lancaster Healthcare Rights Committee to rally
at office of Lancaster County Commissioners

WHAT:    Lancaster members of Put People First! PA, a grassroots, statewide organization of people directly impacted by the healthcare crisis, will call for immediate action from our county commissioners regarding the closing and demolition of UPMC Pinnacle Lancaster Hospital, located at 250 College Avenue, by rallying outside County Government Center.

WHERE:     Lancaster County Government Center, 150 N Queen Street, Lancaster
WHEN:     Wednesday January 30, 2019, at 1:00 pm

Since the December 18th meeting of the Lancaster City Council, the slated closure of the UPMC-Pinnacle hospital has begun to raise alarm in our community. On December 23, 2018 the LNP Editorial Board wrote, “We think there ought to be more important considerations than a health system’s bottom line…. It’s not asking too much to have some choice in where one gets one’s health care. But increasingly, we are being left with fewer choices — and no way of changing that reality.” (1)

The Lancaster Healthcare Rights Committee will be taking action to protect our basic human right to healthcare here in Lancaster. County Commissioners should do everything in their power to keep UPMC Pinnacle open, and we appeal to the public to take action to protect our local jobs and healthcare services.  

“Closing this hospital will hurt those of us who are already struggling. Lack of access to healthcare services lead to health issues, leading to job loss, homelessness and poverty, making this a crisis we can’t ignore. We must stop UPMC Pinnacle Lancaster from closing until our concerns are addressed. We need to hear that our elected representatives care about our well-being ,” stated Tammy Rojas, member of Put People First! PA and Coordinator of the Lancaster Healthcare Rights Committee during City Council Meeting on December 18, 2018. (2)

These closures illustrate the need for an office of the Public Healthcare Advocate’s the State Government who can advocate for all Pennsylvania residents who are at the mercy of for-profit healthcare providers, an issue that Put People First! PA has been raising across the State.

Put People First! PA has members in 17 counties waging their “Healthcare is a Human Right” campaign. Last September, the Lancaster Healthcare Rights Committee held a demonstration against substandard care and working conditions at ManorCare Lancaster, as part of a Statewide Week of Action in York, Lancaster, Pittsburgh, and Johnstown PA. Since then the Lancaster Healthcare Rights Committee has been at the forefront of the fight to keep UPMC Pinnacle Lancaster open.

  1. https://lancasteronline.com/opinion/editorials/closure-of-upmc-pinnacle-lancaster-highlights-the-tough-realities-of/article_bf54ae02-056e-11e9-beaf-7be77f37c05a.html
  2. https://lancasteronline.com/news/local/city-council-passes-lancaster-s-budget-gets-earful-over-upmc/article_d3c1e472-033e-11e9-aaac-af061e4653c8.html

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 Medicare.gov 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 www.putpeoplefirstpa.org, and www.poorpeoplescampaign.org

Kaiser Family Foundation (https://www.kff.org/medicaid/state-indicator/distribution-by-employment-status-4/) and Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (https://www.cbpp.org/sites/default/files/atoms/files/snap_factsheet_pennsylvania.pdf).