Tiffany Lynn Walker: 5/21/75 – 12/13/16

Last Tuesday, Johnstown Put People First member Tiffany Walker passed away at home. Another PPF member, Bella Oliveras, was with her when she passed.

Tiffany was a new member — she had been in PPF for less than a year — but she made a major impact on the Johnstown OC and its members. She lost both of her legs this past March due to a blood clot issue, and was unable to get prosthetic legs that would have allowed her to move around freely. She was also dealing with chronic pain. With all of the challenges Tiffany faced, she’s remembered most of all as a giving and selfless person: When the Johnstown Organizing Committee decided to start doing fundraising drives to support our disabled members she pushed Bella, who is trying to get a motorized wheel-chair, to go first.

Tiffany was someone who fought for herself and for the people around her, and someone who is worth fighting for. She was someone that the system, and especially the health care system, abandoned. But still she brought her strength and her energy to the fight in Put People First. We’ll miss Tiffany, and we’ll carry on with her in our hearts and on our minds.

Tiffany’s family and friends are raising money to cover her funeral costs. Please support them by making a donation here.

Bella wrote a poem recently, which she shared at the Put People First! PA membership assembly in Harrisburg this year. She said that it really describes Tiffany, so we’re re-publishing it here below:

What it means to be a vibrant woman


To be bold and to stand up for what she believes in.
To dare to speak the truth and show respect where it’s due.
To be loved and be appreciated for who she is.
To know right from wrong.
To be a teacher and be a achiever.
To be a caretaker and to be a friend.
She’s a fighter, believer, lover and supporter but above all she’s a vibrant woman.

Ben Palmquist, member of the Put People First! PA Campaign Team and Campaign Manager for the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative, wrote the following guide to help us understand the upcoming threats, challenges, and opportunities with healthcare in the U.S.

Put People First is committed to helping our communities meet their needs, engaging people across the state in a strategic response to these attacks and creating solutions to ensure the health and well being of all people in Pennsylvania.

What to Expect from the Coming Republican Attacks on Health Care

Hard-right Republicans have taken over all branches of government, and since the election President-Elect Donald Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have all said that health care will be a major target in January.

The agenda the party is rallying around is truly unprecedented. Never before in history have ideological extremists held such sweeping control of government and had the power to repeal laws, dismantle and privatize public programs, and revoke fundamental civil and human rights. On the campaign trail, Trump was not fully in alignment with Ryan, so it is uncertain just what we should expect, but there is every reason to expect a truly catastrophic defunding and privatization of Medicaid that could force 30 million people out of the program, a dismantling of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that could take insurance away from another 22 million people, and a privatization of Medicare that would drastically limit health care access for seniors. The gravity of this would be enormous: taking comprehensive health care access away from people would literally kill tens of thousands of people every year.

While what Republicans will do exactly is unclear, they have released nine health care plans over the last four years. The following is a list of key conclusions that are emerging about the direction things are likely headed, with links to further reading on each topic.

Read more here.

feature image via SNaHP and Amanda Malik

Check out Put People First campaign team member and medical student Karim Sariahmed speaking with other medical students, PPF members and local activists at Students for a National Healthcare Program’s #TrickNotTreat action! Demonstrators gathered at Philadelphia’s City Hall and marched to Independence Blue Cross Headquarters.

“The question of class and worker status is a deeper one than we can deal with in a single article or action, but it’s one that physicians in particular need to grapple with if they value social justice.” – Karim Sariahmed

Read more reflection from Karim at the SNaHP blog.

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Two visions were on the table in this election:

One, an America that uses words like “freedom” and “liberty,” but takes us back to a time before social movements won civil rights for women, black people, LGBTQ people, disabled people and others.

The second, an America where anyone can get ahead no matter your skin color, gender or sexual orientation, just as long as you work and try hard enough.

But neither of these visions fits the reality that we, as everyday people, know: People are struggling with poverty and economic decline, from every racial and ethnic background, every gender, every ability and every religion, from rural and urban areas. These struggles come from forces and systems we cannot individually control: the changing global economy, lack of family sustaining jobs, environmental devastation, immigration, discrimination, police and military violence, incarceration, and corporate greed, among others.

The two visions are false choices. But Put People First is creating new choices. Put People First believes that Pennsylvania can have a future in which poor and working-class people come together across all lines of division. If we unite, share our stories, and commit to our struggles and each other, we can take powerful action to change things. We, the everyday people of Pennsylvania, can shift what is politically possible.

Our formula is simple. We unite around our basic needs and see them as human rights. We bring together people who’ve never been brought together before. We wrestle with our assumptions. We build community. We love each other.

We are the ones that we’ve been waiting for. When we’re united, nothing can stop us. Join today.