Health care is a human right!

Our current campaign is about claiming our human right to health care. We should all be able to get the care we need, when we need it, without going broke. The long-term goal of this campaign is to pass legislation that insures health care is a universal, publicly-financed human right for everyone in Pennsylvania.

Everyone gets sick. We all have bodies, and we all need care. At some point in our lives any of us may need dental care, vision care, mental healthcare, reproductive care, elder care, gender related care, and other forms of care. Currently, our healthcare system doesn’t treat us as whole people. We have a patchwork system in which healthcare is a commodity and not a right. Our ability to secure quality care of all kinds for ourselves and our families is largely dependent on our ability to pay. It also depends on whether we live in a city, a suburban or a rural area, whether or not we’re inside a jail or prison, our race, gender, age, and immigration status.

Just like we need a healthcare system in which healthcare is a right and a public good, we need a movement to secure such a system where we all come together to get everything we need. If we keep advocating around different pieces of the healthcare system, in different communities, we can’t build enough power to transform the whole system. Put People First! PA brings together all of our communities to win one of our most basic needs and build a movement not for “coverage” but for care.

Here’s a timeline of some of our organizing victories and milestones:

In 2021 we:

  • Introduced in the PA House the Public Healthcare Advocate Act HB 1828
  • Published our Public Healthcare Advocate policy paper 
  • Organized people who need the adult dental benefit restored using our Facebook group
  • Strengthened our Healthcare Rights Committees’ ability to wield the Healthcare as a Human Right Campaign to develop as political centers of gravity through the implementation of regional plans that focus on specific manifestations of the crisis
  • Increased our understanding of the forces we’re up against, and in particular of Pennsylvania as a site of global healthcare capital, creating a narrative that makes visible the healthcare system as one powerful arm of capital and the ruling class
  • Continued to lead the PA Poor People’s Campaigns with our strategic partners, engaging in related tactics and actions to grow our base
  • Continued to use our campaign to subvert divide and conquer strategies and attack systemic racism at its root

In 2020 and previous years we:

  • Adapted our organizing in the COVID 19 pandemic, created a specific set of statewide COVID demands, fought the closure of hospitals, distributed thousands of dollars in Community Care funds to our leaders to help secure them through the crisis, and formulated Projects of Survival for every region of the state.
  • In 2019 we fought the closing of Lancaster Pinnacle UPMC hospital, and subsequently achieved the unanimous passage of a resolution in favor of a Public Healthcare Advocate in Lancaster City Council.
  • In 2019 we held a successful medical debt jubilee campaign, absolving over 1.6 million dollars of medical debt for over 800 families in 18 Western PA counties.
  • In 2018 we helped organize the largest action in the country around healthcare and a healthy environment with the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival as part of the 40 days of action launch.
  • In 2017 we won Healthcare Town Halls in communities across PA for public comment as part of the insurance rate review process conducted by the Pennsylvania Insurance Department.
  • In 2016 over 600 people came together to win the first public hearing on ACA/Obamacare rate increases in Harrisburg since the law’s implementation.
  • In 2016 we produced the report Beyond Coverage: Putting People First in PA’s Health Care System, based on hundreds of interviews with PA residents about their experiences with health care.
  • In 2015 held our first statewide Leadership Institute on organizing skills, and held Healthcare Know Your Rights workshops across the state.
  • In 2014 we joined the fight to expand Medicaid in Pennsylvania.
  • In 2013 we endorsed the call for a new Poor People’s Campaign for today.

We know that a different health care system is possible. Put People First! PA believes that only a grassroots groundswell of those most impacted can transform our healthcare system to one that puts people above profit. Want to be part of this campaign? Learn how to get involved.