September 19, 2018
Put People First! PA holds
Statewide Week of Action against Healthcare Profiteers
Last week, September 10th-17th, Pennsylvanians experiencing poverty, disability, or difficulty meeting their basic needs held public demonstrations as part of a Statewide Week of Action organized by healthcare rights organization, Put People First! PA. Dozens gathered outside of healthcare businesses and intermediaries including Managed Care Organizations (MCOs), insurance companies, nursing facilities, and private prison healthcare providers to call attention to profiteering in the healthcare system. Residents demanded the establishment of a state-level Public Advocate to resolve complaints about private, for-profit health insurance companies, MCOs and other healthcare organizations, especially those that take state funding.
On September 10th, members of Put People First! PA (PPF) held a call-in day targeting Gateway Insurance to advocate for PPF Member Kim Atland, of the York County Healthcare Rights Committee. For years, Gateway Insurance has denied him full access to all components of the special shoes that he needs to move without discomfort. Kim is disabled and has had 51 reconstructive surgeries. After our call-in day, Gateway informed Kim that they had re-assessed their decision and the treatment he had been denied would now be covered.
On September 15th, PPF members held public demonstrations outside two ManorCare facilities on opposite sides of the state, in Lancaster and in Pittsburgh. ManorCare is a network of nursing and rehabilitation centers and was just acquired by ProMedica Health System and real estate investment trust, Welltower Inc., for $4.4 billion dollars. The Lancaster ManorCare facility received a one-star health inspection rating from the state. Earlier this year, the facility failed to report a rape to the State Office of Aging.
Put People First! PA members shared stories of family who have been mistreated in ManorCare facilities. Says PPF member Anne Winslow, a chaplain in nursing homes across the greater Lancaster area, “Neither the staff or the residents should be subjected to such treatment by the profiteers. The profits that fill their coffers can more than withstand the hiring of additional staff to give the residents the care they deserve and bring their buildings up to livable conditions.”
On September 17th, PPF members held a demonstration at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown where family members have experienced unsatisfactory care. The hospital currently has a 2-out-of-5 star rating from Medicare.gov which puts it in the bottom 30% of hospitals.
“Whether it’s incarcerated people, people on Medicaid, people with disabilities, working people, youth or elders, profiteers are present in all forms of care and every level of the system,” remarked Kim Altland of York County.
Put People First! PA gives voice to everyday poor and dispossessed Pennsylvanians who are struggling to meet their basic needs. We have members in 17 counties and Healthcare Rights Committees in Pittsburgh, Johnstown, Altoona, York, Lancaster and Philadelphia, crossing the typical racial and urban/suburban/rural divides. Our Healthcare is a Human Right campaign is working towards universal, publicly financed healthcare for everyone in the state.
“No human being should be housed in a substandard facility with underpaid staff, or be denied necessary treatment. Governor Wolf should support the establishment of an office of the Public Advocate that can pursue healthcare complaints and advocate for better treatment for Pennsylvania residents,” said Zachary Hershman, PPF Member from Philadelphia.