Nonviolent Medicaid Army Put People First! PA

For Immediate Release:  August 7th, 2023


Zachary Hershman | | 201.264.2200

Put People First! PA  |



PENNSYLVANIA – Members of Put People First! PA and residents of Pennsylvania are demanding that Governor Shapiro immediately cease Medicaid cutoffs across the State, after CNN reported on July 20th that 12 states have already had to pause terminating residents from Medicaid when it became apparent that a plurality of those terminations were only for procedural reasons where enrollees either failed to complete their renewal paperwork or were unable to meet burdensome paperwork requirements. 

The bipartisan decision to end the continuous coverage requirement for Medicaid tasks States with redetermining enrollee eligibility, but CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) is worried that when states terminate people for procedural reasons they have not definitively ascertained that those enrollees are no longer eligible for Medicaid, according to Daniel Tsai, director of the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services as reported by CNN[1].

Of the more than 90,000 PA residents that have lost their Medicaid coverage already since the cut-offs began, just under half have been disenrolled for failure to return paperwork by the deadline, according to reporting by Kate Giammarise for 90.5 WESA[2].

Put People First! PA, who has held actions, events and free health clinics across Pennsylvania over the past months [3] to call attention to  the cutoffs and to educate impacted residents as to their rights, has heard directly from scores of residents who have been cut off from Medicaid for purely procedural reasons, regardless of their eligibility. Many others have been cut off of Medicaid for making a few dollars over the income limit or for having too much in their savings or retirement accounts.

“We are asking Gov. Shapiro, is Pennsylvania included on this list of those States who are pausing disenrollments? And if not, why are we continuing with this broken process that will leave hundreds of thousands of eligible Pennsylvanians without insurance, and is now drawing scrutiny from federal regulators?” said Barbara White, resident of Pittsburgh and member of Put People First! PA.

Residents of PA have shared their stories with Put People First! PA, highlighting the injustice of the cutoffs, the necessity of Medicaid, and underscoring how narrowly constructed eligibility requirements systematically exclude residents from their human right to healthcare.  

“My children and myself are Medicaid recipients. I’m worried myself and my children will lose our coverage. My children have asthma and need to be able to get their medication and be able to see the doctor” said Joanie Dickenson, a resident of Lancaster County PA.

“My services will be cut soon. I am only 24 Years old. Will I make it to 50!? We have to fight back because who else is going to do it!” said Savannah Sutton, of York PA.

Rebecca Reitenbach, of Williamsport, shares her story:  “My kiddo’s therapist only takes Medicaid. Anyone who has had any kind of mental health issue knows how important it is to develop a trusting relationship with your therapist. This therapist has supported them through self harm recovery, their ongoing struggle with an eating disorder, filing a PFA against their father, suicidal ideation, and the trauma of a sexual assault. But these Medicaid cuts have interrupted their access to this literally lifesaving healthcare. I make “too much” money to qualify, and so even after adding them to my private insurance, my child has lost access to the cornerstone of their mental healthcare.” 

Natalie Ricci, a resident of Butler County shares why Medicaid is important to her and why we need to expand Medicaid to ALL PA residents:  “I actually had Medicaid until May 2023, and they were wonderful and covered everything, even my 30k/month rare disease drug Isturisa. However, I was legally deemed disabled and transferred to Medicare, and I am facing Medicare refusing to cover TWO of my necessary drugs. It makes no sense! Covered under low income state insurance Medicaid but not covered on Medicare once disabled?!”

It is due to the experiences of thousands of people like these that Put People First! PA is demanding that no one lose their healthcare: that PA should instead invest the more than $8 billion budget surplus to expand Medicaid to cover ALL PA residents, fully restore the Medicaid Adult Dental Benefit that was cut in 2011, and that the legislature should pass a bill to establish an office of the Public Healthcare Advocate [4] for Pennsylvania to provide support for residents fighting for their healthcare rights.

Put People First! PA will participate in a national week of action with the Nonviolent Medicaid Army to fight Medicaid cut-offs September 17-23. Plans are being made to deliver petition signatures and stories from more than 20 “Medicaid Mondays” (social media drive) to Governor Shapiro and Secretary Arkoosh. 

[1] Medicaid disenrollments paused in a dozen states after failure to comply with federal rules

[2]90K Pennsylvanians have lost Medicaid coverage, Kate Giammarise

[3] Pennsylvanians call for Public Healthcare Advocate, DaniRae Renno
[4] 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.

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