Nonviolent Medicaid Army Put People First! PA

For Immediate Release:  July 5th, 2023

Barbara White | | 412-381-6886
Put People First! PA  |



PENNSYLVANIA – Members of Put People First! PA took action across the state of Pennsylvania during the month of June in response to the bipartisan decision to end the continuous coverage requirement for Medicaid; while assisting residents in filing for appeals and making their voices heard. 

Responding to public outcry over these cuts, Put People First! PA held a series of events across the State, connecting with impacted and concerned residents from all backgrounds and political orientations:

  • Members of the South Central PA Healthcare Rights Committee tabled at the West Lancaster Jewels community health fair to inform residents about their right to appeal their Medicaid cut-off notice, while members of the Central-Appalachia Healthcare Rights Committee went door-to-door in the Oakhurst Homes of Johnstown, PA’s poorest small city.
  • Members of the Northeast PA Healthcare Rights Committee held a free People’s Clinic in Berwick, PA, where the community has been devastated by the loss of their local hospital. Members of the Southeast PA Healthcare Rights Committee also held a People’s Clinic in Upper Darby, a neighborhood that has been jolted by the hospital closures in Delaware County over the past year.
  • Members of the Southwest PA Healthcare Rights Committee gathered outside the Department of Human Services Bureau of Hearings and Appeals regional office in Pittsburgh to support the appeal of senior Gary Rush after his life-saving Medicaid was cut by the State.
  • Members from across the State, as the “Nonviolent Medicaid Army”, held a rally and lobby day at the Capitol in Harrisburg on June 7th, speaking with dozens of legislators about the impact of Medicaid cuts and the need for a Public Healthcare Advocate [1]. 

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

“Thousands of people on Medicaid are receiving their redetermination notices within a couple of days of the deadline to renew or appeal. Some are even receiving the notices after the due date has already passed!” said Zachary Hershman, a public health worker and Put People First! PA member from Philadelphia. “The healthcare costs for a person with no insurance coverage are much greater in the long term, so this seems like a net negative for both the State of Pennsylvania, and for our most vulnerable residents. Are we really saving any money here? What’s the point?”

“The rules say that as a single person I’d need to be making less than $1,215 a month – before taxes – to be “eligible” for Medicaid. New data from the Poor People’s Campaign shows that poverty is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, [3] and between 2019 and 2020, Pennsylvania experienced a 1.5 year decline in life expectancy. [4] These Medicaid cuts are a death sentence! Everyone has a right to healthcare, and everyone is worthy of receiving life-saving public services.” said Benita Campbell, a Put People First! PA member from Burgettstown. “Why has no politician in PA, Democrat or Republican, stood up against these cuts?”

Put People First! PA is demanding that no one lose their healthcare: that PA should instead invest some of the $8 billion dollar 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 [5] for Pennsylvania to provide support for residents fighting for their healthcare rights.

“I think about what my grandmother went through when she needed a root canal that costs thousands of dollars that she couldn’t afford. Luckily she was able to get the work done at a charity event that happens one weekend out of the year.  She shouldn’t have had to wait to get that care and neither should anyone else – that’s why we need the Legislature to reinstate the adult dental benefit that was cut from Medicaid in 2011[6], and expand Medicaid to ALL Pennsylvania residents!” said Vinnie Giannini of South Central Pennsylvania.

[1] Pennsylvanians call for Public Healthcare Advocate, DaniRae Renno

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

[3] Poor People’s Campaign National Fact Sheet

[4] Poor People’s Campaign PA Fact Sheet

[5] 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.

[6] HB 1417, Introduced by Innamorato and Gaydos, would restore the adult dental benefit in Medicaid

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