Nonviolent Medicaid Army Put People First! PA


Zachary Hershman | | 201.264.2200

Put People First! PA  |

Medicaid Cuts = Death 

“Nonviolent Medicaid Army” Takes Action Around The Country

From People’s Clinics to demonstrations outside Medicaid appeals courts, 

Medicaid recipients raise their voices to demand a halt to Medicaid cut-offs during “Week Of Action” beginning September 17th

HARRISBURG – During the week of September 17th, the Nonviolent Medicaid Army will mobilize across the United States to demand an immediate end to the Medicaid cutoffs currently underway. Chapters of the Nonviolent Medicaid Army in Wyoming, Texas, Wisconsin, Indiana, New York, Georgia, Vermont and Pennsylvania are helping file appeals for those targeted by these cuts and holding actions outside the appeal hearings, organizing health screenings at free People’s Clinics in local neighborhoods to raise awareness about the cut-offs and appeals process, and taking action with their legislators and elected representatives.

In Pennsylvania, members of the Nonviolent Medicaid Army will caravan from five regions – Pittsburgh, Johnstown, Lancaster, Berwick, and Delco – bringing 5 different panels of a “Medicaid Stories Quilt” together from across the state. The group will converge September 20th in Harrisburg to deliver a petition to Governor Shapiro and Secretary Arkoosh demanding 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. The press event in Harrisburg will include speeches from directly affected residents, with photo opportunities of the massive Medicaid quilt. 

Event Times and Locations for PA:

  • Southwest PA: Tuesday September 19th, 12 noon – location TBD; caravan to Central-Appalachia launches at 1:00 pm 
  • Central-Appalachia PA: Tuesday September 19th, 6 pm – First Lutheran Church at 419 Vine St. in Johnstown, caravan to Harrisburg launches at 7:00 pm 
  • Northeast PA: Tuesday September 19th, 6 pm – outside of the closed Berwick Hospital at 701 E. 16th St., Berwick PA; caravan to Harrisburg launches at 7:00 pm
  • Southeast PA: Tuesday, September 19th, 5 pm – outside of Delaware County Memorial Hospital at 501 N. Lansdowne Ave.  Caravan to Harrisburg launches the following morning, September 20th at 9:00 am from Naylor’s Run Park – 500 Beverly Road, Upper Darby 
  • South Central PA: Wednesday September 20th, 9 am – Reservoir Park, 832 E. Orange St. across from Lancaster County Prison, caravan to Harrisburg launches at 10:00 am
  • Harrisburg: Wednesday September 20th, 12:30 pm East Wing Rotunda, PA State Capitol Complex

Automatic re-enrollment of Medicaid has ended after a bipartisan agreement included in the December 2022 omnibus spending bill signed by President Biden. Already more than 5.5 million people have been cut nationally – while over 154,000 people have been disenrolled in Pennsylvania, including 38,000 children and 115,000 adults. [1] 

In August, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that it was intervening to pause Medicaid cutoffs in 12 States out of concern that a high percentage of terminations were for procedural reasons (such as failure to complete renewal paperwork) rather than ineligibility for Medicaid.

It is unclear whether Pennsylvania was among those 12 states, as the list was not made public. According to an August 9th letter from CMS Deputy Secretary Sally Kozak, Pennsylvania reported that only 9% of beneficiaries were terminated for procedural reasons during the month of May [2] – however according to the Hospital/Health System Association of Pennsylvania (HAP), in Pennsylvania, about 44 percent of those terminated in PA overall were terminated for procedural reasons. [3]

Healthcare rights advocates and Medicaid recipients are concerned by this massive discrepancy and have sought clarification from Gov. Shapiro and Secretary Arkoosh, while continuing to challenge the legitimacy of cutting anyone from the Medicaid rolls. 

“There are no ‘good states’ and ‘bad states’ when it comes to cutting people off of their healthcare,” remarked Sarah Weintraub of Wisconsin. “Every state that is cutting people off of their healthcare is committing policy murder.” 

“We reject the idea that only some people ‘really need’ Medicaid and others should be forced to pay high out of pocket costs including premiums, co-pays and deductibles. Almost half of this country is poor or near poor – we all need Medicaid!” stated Denita Jones of Texas. 

Weintraub and Jones are both members of the Nonviolent Medicaid Army national Coordinating Committee. 

In Pennsylvania, Put People First! PA has been collecting stories from directly affected residents for months, supporting them in filing appeals and preparing to mobilize for the Caravan to Harrisburg on September 20th.

“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 Dickson of Lancaster, PA.

“My one son is autistic and was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia about a year ago. He is only 9 years old. I don’t know how our family would get through if we didn’t have Medicaid.”, said Blanca Arroyo-Perez of York County, PA. “The Medicaid we do have doesn’t cover all his medications which is more than enough of what we can handle financially. I can’t imagine how worse it would be if we all of a sudden lost our Medicaid all together.”


Background: The Nonviolent Medicaid Army is a growing militant force of the poor and dispossessed, united across identities, regions, races and issues, modeled after Dr. King’s “nonviolent army of the poor” from the first Poor People’s Campaign. 

[1] KFF Medicaid Unwinding Tracker

[2] Letter from CMS Deputy Secretary Sally Kozak

[3] Hospital/Healthcare System Association of Pennsylvania Report on Medicaid Disenrollment

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