Nonviolent Medicaid Army Put People First! PA

Tammy Rosing | |‪ 
(717) 350-3224‬
Put People First! PA  |



WHO: The South Central Healthcare Rights Committee of Put People First! PA, a grassroots all-volunteer organization fighting to make healthcare a human right.

WHAT: The South Central Healthcare Rights Committee of Put People First! PA (PPF-PA) is hosting a memorial on the longest night of the year, also known as National Homeless Persons Memorial Day, to uplift the names and memories of all those we have lost due to this unjust system.

WHERE: Rivertown Pride Center located at 324 Walnut St in Columbia, PA

WHEN: December 21st , 4PM – 5:30PM 

WHY:  Put People First! has hosted a Longest Night Memorial, as part of the NUH led Winter Offensive Organizing Drive, every year since 2019, a tradition that began during the campaign to save St Joseph’s hospital, connecting the struggles for healthcare, housing, criminalization of the poor and unhoused, mass incarceration, and the rights of the LGBTQIA community.

The memorial will feature songs, prayer, remembrances, art, poetry, and testimonies from Put People First! PA members and the broader community. This year we will be uplifting the names of those who were denied their human rights to healthcare, housing, and other basic needs; those who are members of our community as dear friends and family: River Olmsted, Theadora (Thea) Cassidy, Tammy Bell, Lucy Fisher, Deb Kneisley, Ricardo Munoz, Miss Penny, Gregory Baynes, Anthony Snyder, and more. Further names will be included in programming at the event, and introduced by participants and audience members.

The National Winter Offensive season takes place annually from Thanksgiving through the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr Day with key dates throughout the organizing drive.

As part of the National Winter Offensive Organizing Drive the National Annual Homeless Memorials take place December 21st every year on the longest night of the year to memorialize and honor our people who have died on the streets and from this unjust system as well as declare a call to action to unite, organize and fight for our human rights and put an end to deaths in the streets! 

The memorial comes in the midst of HUD recently announcing the significant rise in homelessness across the country and the continued advocacy by Put People First! PA for restoration of the adult dental benefit to Medicaid, which was cut in 2011. PPF-PA recently organized a caravan from five regions across Pennsylvania to converge on the State Capitol with sections of the ‘Medicaid Stories Quilt’, delivering a petition to Gov. Shapiro and DHS Secretary Val Arkoosh requesting 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, and for the legislature to pass a law establishing an office of the Public Healthcare Advocate for Pennsylvania. Put People First! PA continues to support and organize Medicaid recipients to file appeals through the State.


Donate to Put People First! PA in our 11th year of organizing Pennsylvania! Help us build a statewide, multiracial, working class movement to win healthcare as a human right. PPF-PA’s year end grassroots fundraising drive is crucial for securing the future of the organization and maintaining our political independence.

Make your year end donation here on our website or venmo PPF-PA’s fiscal sponsor @UWATreasurer!

Do you want to support grassroots organizing to change what’s politically possible in Pennsylvania and across the US? Do you like stickers or tote bags? Do you often misplace your belongings because you can’t find the right bag for them? Is the back of your phone case boring? If you answered “Yes!” to any of these questions, you should order some Put People First! PA/Nonviolent Medicaid Army swag!


Suggested donations are $5-10 per sticker and $25-40 per tote bag (U.S. shipping included) which you can make on our website or venmo PPF-PA’s fiscal sponsor @UWATreasurer.

Don’t need a sticker or tote bag? Make your donation here or venmo PPF-PA’s fiscal sponsor (@UWATreasurer) today and we’ll just send you a thank you note for supporting our work.



Zachary Hershman | | ‪(267) 571-9503‬

Put People First! PA  |

Nonviolent Medicaid Army Caravan Brings Medicaid Stories Quilt To Harrisburg, Delivering Petition To Sec. Arkoosh And Governor Shapiro To End Medicaid Cutoffs

DHS Sec Val Arkoosh Commits To Include Full Restoration Of Medicaid Adult Dental Benefit In November Dhs Budget Proposal

HARRISBURG –  Pennsylvania Department of Human Services Secretary Val Arkoosh confirmed Wednesday September 20 Thursday in a meeting with Put People First! PA that her office would commit to including the Medicaid adult dental benefit as a top priority in the DHS budget proposal that will be submitted to Gov. Wolf this November. The adult dental benefit, which covers dental services for Medicaid recipients, was previously cut in 2011.

The meeting took place the morning of a press conference where three dozen Pennsylvania residents and members of Put People First! PA arrived in Harrisburg via caravan from 5 regions of the state. They were joined by representatives of sibling organization United Workers from Maryland. This was the culminating event of the ‘Nonviolent Medicaid Army Week of Action’, a national mobilization led by chapters of the Nonviolent Medicaid Army Medicaid in Wyoming, Texas, Wisconsin, Indiana, New York, Georgia, Maryland and Vermont. Here in Pennsylvania,  regional demonstrations in Pittsburgh, Johnstown, Lancaster, Berwick, and Delco were anchored by Put People First! PA before caravaning to the State Capitol.

The press conference, featuring directly impacted speakers from Westmoreland, Pike, Philadelphia, Lancaster, and Montgomery counties, included a 30-foot long Medicaid Stories Quilt with a collection of dozens of photographs and stories from Pennsylvanians, and a Petition to Secretary Arkoosh and Governor Shapiro with over 700 signatures calling for 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.

“We’re gathered to tell the world that these Medicaid cuts equal death. There are 24 million poor people in this country who are in danger of being cut, and over three million in Pennsylvania alone who rely on Medicaid for access to healthcare. There has been no out-cry in the media about this ongoing policy violence, and we are raising our voices to make the invisible visible and get organized to demand an end to this denial of health.“ said Anita Knisely-Durham, a Put People First! PA member from Philadelphia county. 

Although Governor Shapiro was not able to meet on September 20th due to scheduling conflicts, his office did commit to a future meeting with Put People First! PA. After the press conference, the group went en masse to his office, caroling along the way, and delivered the petition with dozens of comments to members of his staff.

In the meeting with residents and member leaders of Put People First! PA, DHS Secretary Arkoosh made the following commitments:

  • To add restoration of the full Adult Dental Benefit as one of their top budget priorities when DHS submits their budget in November
  • To include language about the right to appeal a Medicaid cutoff in their promotional materials and messaging
  • To publish Medicaid redetermination appeal, approval, and denial rates in a publicly available tracker
  • To look into raising the eligibility limits to qualify for Medicaid in PA
  • To look into extending the length of time in which residents can file for an appeal and to explore the possibility of a provision that allows residents to keep their healthcare for 60 days

“We are very happy to hear that Secretary Arkoosh agrees with us on the necessity of restoring the adult dental benefit in Medicaid, and that she committed that DHS would fight for it in their budget proposal that will arrive on the Governor’s desk in November.” said Barbara White, resident of Pittsburgh and member of Put People First! PA. “With inflation and the rising cost of living, it is more important than ever that we stop the cutoffs and expand Medicaid to all residents to ensure that everyone gets the care they need.”


Over the course of Tuesday September 19 afternoon/evening and Wednesday morning September 20, residents on or excluded from Medicaid came together in powerful actions across the Southwest, Central-Appalachia, South Central, Southeast and Northeast regions of our state.

After local actions lifting up our voices to call out Medicaid cut-offs as policy violence and unveiling pieces of our Medicaid Mondays stories quilt all regions convened at the Capitol in HARRISBURG on September 20 for a press conference and meeting with Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Val Arkoosh and petition delivery to Governor Shapiro’s office.

It was a powerful week! Here are some LIVE streams to catch all the action!

Harrisburg Livestream:

Nijmie opening

Jacob and nijmie opening

Butterly song





United Workers

United Workers





Northeast PA Livestream



Southwest PA Livestream

Southeast PA Livestream

Central Appalachia Livestream

Southcentral PA Livestream