For Immediate Release: 9 February 2023
Harrison Farina 770-362-0564 email@example.com
Tammy Rojas 717-350-3224 firstname.lastname@example.org
Pennsylvania Nonviolent Medicaid Army rejects plans to strip Medicaid from 1.2 million low-income residents
Pennsylvania—Medicaid recipients and members of the Nonviolent Medicaid Army are rejecting the state of Pennsylvania’s plans to strip Medicaid from up to 1.2 million people in the coming year . They are demanding that no one lose their healthcare, and in fact that PA should expand Medicaid to cover all PA residents, fully restore the Medicaid Adult Dental Benefit that was cut in 2011, and that the legislature pass a law that establishes an office of the Public Healthcare Advocate for Pennsylvania .
Since the pandemic, more than 3.5 million people in Pennsylvania have received continuous necessary care through Medicaid without having to navigate the complex and time-consuming eligibility process.
Now, following Congress’s bipartisan decision  to end the continuous coverage requirement on April 1st, (which also decouples ending the coverage requirement from the ending of the Public Health Emergency declaration), 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. Over 1 million of them are Pennsylvania residents. This is happening amidst historic cost-of-living and public health crises.
Lancaster County resident Tammy Rojas, a Medicaid recipient, notes that Medicaid is essential for her to continue taking care of her health and following her doctors’ orders.
“I already lost my food stamps because I sent in my documents a day late,” Rojas said. “There’s no way I can afford to lose my healthcare too. I’m on Otezla, which is a really expensive medication for my arthritis and psoriasis. It costs $6,000 a month out of pocket and I’m on other medications too. If I got kicked off Medicaid, I would not be able to see the specialist doctors like my podiatrist.”
“I have bone spurs in my feet due to being uninsured for years. My podiatrist is recommending surgery to correct my feet and there is no way I could afford that without Medicaid. Not addressing this is going to affect my mobility in the long term,” said Rojas.
Harrison Farina of Philadelphia, who also gets healthcare through Medicaid, warns that Pennsylvania’s plan to kick over 1 million people off the program is not only immoral, but would exacerbate the ongoing healthcare crisis in his region.
“I can’t afford an ACA plan because the copays and deductibles are too high. Millions of people like me are in this situation. Before I got on Medicaid and was using private insurance, I was forgoing seeing a doctor and dentist because I couldn’t afford it,” said Farina.
To make matters worse, hospitals that serve predominantly poor and low-income residents are facing cuts and closures across the state – in urban, rural, and suburban areas, including the recent closure of Delaware County Memorial Hospital and Columbia County’s Berwick Hospital. Put People First! PA has been taking action around the hospital closures.
“In Pennsylvania you see profiteers trying to make a quick buck on healthcare while actual care and services are getting run into the ground. Private equity firms are making billions of dollars but we can’t get the care we need. These Medicaid cut-offs are yet another example of the war on the poor,” said Farina. “Healthcare is a human right, and we have to get organized and fight for a Public Healthcare Advocate in Pennsylvania to make that a reality.”
Legally, 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 know about and exercise that right through providing assistance with appeals for those who are willing to fight for Healthcare as a Human Right for everyone. Throughout the year-long process of Medicaid cut-offs, in which an estimated 100,000 people per month will be dropped from the program, Put People First! PA will be doing outreach events and actions across the state.
The Nonviolent Medicaid Army is organizing everyone on or unfairly excluded from Medicaid. It’s a multi-state initiative coordinated in Pennsylvania by Put People First! PA. To join, visit https://www.putpeoplefirstpa.org/medicaid-army/
NOTES FOR EDITORS
1. Where did we get this number?
2. 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. Link: https://www.putpeoplefirstpa.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Final-PHA-report.pdf
3. “Millions at risk of losing Medicaid in the spring under provision tucked inside $1.7 trillion federal spending bill,” CNBC, 21 Dec. 2022. Link: https://www.cnbc.com/2022/12/21/omnibus-millions-at-risk-of-losing-medicaid-in-the-spring-under-1point7-trillion-federal-spending-bill.html