Statewide Action: Medicaid Marches!
People First! PA, a grassroots human rights organization with nine Healthcare Rights Committees representing members across the state, held MEDICAID MARCHES in seven locations across Pennsylvania during the first week of October. Marches were held in Altoona, Johnstown, South Central, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Wilkes-Barre and Montgomery County by the local Healthcare Rights Committees.
We demanded that Gov. Wolf apply for a Federal Waiver to expand Medicaid to all PA residents, and pass legislation to establish an Office of the Public Healthcare Advocate to secure the human right to healthcare.
Medicaid Marches were also held in states across the country in coordination with partner organizations in the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival as part of the national launch of the Nonviolent Medicaid Army, which is mobilizing through the healthcare crisis to unite the poor and dispossessed across lines of division.
This is one of the largest annual pushes that PPF-PA makes to get our message out and base-build throughout the state while also putting power holders on notice. These marches also uplift our member’s voices and develop leaders.
On Tuesday, September 29th, the Johnstown Healthcare Rights Committee took to the streets. They brought the Johnstown City Council a letter with demands you can read here. Johnstown City Council has plans to increase the police department’s budget by $250,000 and hire new officers, at a time when the city can barely balance its budget and despite the department’s track record of violence. We don’t need more cops! We need our city and state elected leaders to put our tax dollars into healthcare, housing, Covid19 testing, and other resources for poor and dispossessed people to get through this crisis!
On Saturday, October 3rd the Lancaster & York HRCs marched together around St. Joseph Hospital for their “South Central Medicaid March”, they spoke truth to power and made demands of the following healthcare profiteers and elected officials that represent both counties, UPMC, Penn Medicine, WellSpan, local City & County Government, Governor Wolf & Pennsylvania state legislators, Washington Place Equities, HDC MidAtlantic, Lancaster & York County Judges and District Attorneys. To hear full details about their demands see link to the video here.
The Philadelphia HRC held our Medicaid March on Thurs. October 1st – taking the street to indict the system that denies us our Human Right to Healthcare, and show the power of the Nonviolent Medicaid Army! We started out at the former Inquirer building, which the city is spending $300 to renovate into the new police headquarters, and we marched, drummed & chanted to the empty former Hahnemann University Hospital down the street. We raised up these major demands: 1) For Governor Wolf to seize Hahnemann and re-open it as a public hospital! Re-invest the $300 million earmarked for the renovation of the police headquarters. 2) For Gov. Wolf to apply for a federal waiver to expand Medicaid to all PA residents. 3) For the PA Legislature to create an Office of the Public Healthcare Advocate. 4) Restore the adult dental benefit in Medicaid that was cut in 2011. We also celebrated the historic victory of the residents of the James Talib Deam camp on the parkway – winning the demand of immediate permanent housing!
Pittsburgh & Mon Valley
On Thursday, October 1st, the Nonviolent Medicaid Army hit the streets of Pittsburgh to say:
📣 NO CUTS to Medicaid when the state decides the budget.
📣 Gov. Wolf: Expand Medicaid to all PA residents!
📣 PA Legislature: Create an office of the Public Healthcare Advocate to fight for our healthcare rights!
📣 Peduto/Fitzgerald: TAX UPMC to fund public health, housing, education, transit!
📣 Peduto/Fitzgerald: End racial disparities in covid impacts in Allegheny County where Black people are twice as likely to get sick!
📣 Fitzgerald: Mass Covid Testing in ACJ and in other vulnerable communities in Allegheny County
📣 UPMC: Tell us what you did with your billion dollar bailout. Cancel medical debt and pay what you owe us – taxes, living wages, hazard pay, now!
Amazing leadership from our Mon Valley and Pittsburgh Healthcare Rights Committees!
On Saturday, October 3rd, The Altoona Medicaid March gathered near UPMC Altoona and demanded UPMC stop profiting off of our sickness!
On Saturday, October 3rd, Montco HRC had a caravan rather than a march, in order to hit targets distanced from each other. We went first to a corporate office of Aetna, which denied critical medications to two of our members and countless others. Four “pallbearers” marched a coffin to its big sign and spoke of a for-profit “healthcare system” incentivized to deny care. Next we stopped at Norristown State Hospital, where a lack of PPE and transparency resulted in 10 patient deaths from COVID-19 and hundreds of infected staff. An HRC member spoke of deplorable conditions and treatment when she was a patient there. We closed at Einstein Medical Center and spoke about how Philadelphia’s Jefferson Health system is trying to buy it, making it part of their growth in the last few years from 3 to 14 hospitals. We noted how Jefferson’s CEO makes close to $2 million a year, even though the hospital is a “non-profit.” Our overall message focused on how healthcare cannot be a human right in a system where corporate (and non-profit) giants are gobbling each other up in a fight for dominance and profit. Several of our wonderful new members took important roles in planning, giving speeches and MC-ing the event—so our caravan was a leadership development success. For videos and photos visit facebook.com/montcohrc.
On Friday, October 2nd at 3:30 pm we gathered at the Public Square in Wilkes Barre. We then marched to the Police Headquarters and ended at the County Assistance Office.
We marched to raise up the story of Shaheen Mackey, who died in police custody during a medical emergency in Wilkes Barre. We march for all those who have been victims of state violence including the nearly 190,000 and counting dead from the coronavirus pandemic.
Keep an eye out for additional blog post about the marches in the near future!