South Central Medicaid March Letter to the Editor Series

“Why I’m joining the South Central PA Medicaid March on October 3rd” 

Medicaid Marches started in Vermont by the Vermont Workers Center a couple of years ago. They found them a very effective tactic especially for consolidating their base building efforts in new places. PPF-PA has done a statewide week of action for the last several years in September, before the October Membership Assembly. Last year, we took up the Medicaid Marches as the heading for our statewide week of action, which dovetails with our years-long development of the Nonviolent Medicaid Army which is now a national formation and includes the National Union of the Homeless, Unión de Vecinos (LA), Cosecha (national), Kansas Poor People’s Campaign, Raise Up NC, North Carolina Poor People’s Campaign, Vermont Workers Center, PPF-PA and growing with other members of the Poor People’s Campaign. 

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Terrell, Co-Coordinator of the York Healthcare Rights Committee 

We are dropping the ball big time, and by “we” I mean state and local government that has failed to provide the material well being needed to function in a healthy society, much less a pandemic! 

I, Terrell Turner still work in all of this and live with a layered guilt. Possibly being asymptomatic and infecting those more vulnerable. Being able to provide for my family while countless friends, family, and neighbors struggle to maintain basic dignity. At the same time York County along with our neighbors watch multi million deals in luxury housing development happen in places where our already insufficient healthcare apparatus was further diminished. 

Increased levels of homelesness, poverty, job loss, sickness, and misery lay on the horizon. Subsequently, we as citizens have to jump in front of the looming crisis and demand protections that our elected officials have so easily ignored. Don’t question if the shoe fits, it does. 

So join us, the Put People First! PA York & Lancaster Healthcare Rights Committee for our South Central Medicaid march on October 3 at 3pm at 250 College Ave, Lancaster, PA. Our Medicaid March will be one of many happening across the state and nation the week of September 28th. We must band together to fight back against the interconnected injustices happening to our people. Will you join us?

Erica, York Healthcare Rights Committee 

Will Bunch is absolutely right to address homelessness in the September 7th Opinion article “America’s real hoax.” Homelessness is a crisis that has largely been ignored for years. If changes aren’t made, it will soon explode. 

The CDC eviction moratorium is a step in the right direction but isn’t enough. Tenants must meet guidelines to qualify and landlords can evict renters for reasons other than lack of income. Even if tenants do qualify, the protection ends January 1st. Without any kind of rental assistance to repay rents, how many people will be forced onto the streets? How many families?

The rise in homeless rates between January 2020 and next January will likely be devastating. Homelessness was already rising before COVID-19 hit. Between January 2019 and January 2020, York’s homeless population rose by 12.5% and the number of people unsheltered doubled after years of rates staying relatively stable. 

The county now has more emergency motel vouchers than in previous years, but those are a finite resource. And with social distancing requirements, our local shelters expect space to be cut in half or worse. 

We urgently need to increase shelter space, but shelters don’t help unhoused people in the long-term. And they do little to diminish the medical risks of homelessness: pneumonia, frostbite, tuberculosis, bronchitis, injury from falls and being hit by cars, let alone the risks of COVID-19. 

We need a long-term strategy to eradicate homelessness. If countries like Finland can reduce homelessness, there is no excuse why the richest country in the world can’t do the same. This is why I will be joining the Put People First! PA South Central PA Medicaid March on 10/3 @3PM at 250 College Avenue in Lancaster as we demand housing and healthcare as human rights for all.

Matthew, Co-Coordinator of the Lancaster Healthcare Rights Committee 

My name is Matthew Rosing, I am the co-coordinator of the Lancaster Healthcare Rights Committee of Put People First! PA and a leader in the PA Poor People’s Campaign A National Call for Moral Revival. I’m disheartened by the recent act of State Violence that led to the death of Ricardo Munoz.  

The lack of mental healthcare is an act of state violence, Ricardo’s death by police is an act of state violence. Intimidation and unjustified arrests with $1 million bails are acts of state violence. 

We are in the middle of a global pandemic. The number of Covid-19 cases among inmates and staff has skyrocketed, and several deaths have already occurred. LCP, a facility that already lacks basic things like air conditioning, drinkable water and slim to none healthcare, the number of Covid-19 cases will surely rise more than they already have causing unnecessary deaths. 

There are many people that are sitting in County Prison’s unjustifiably simply due to the fact of being poor, homeless, mentality ill, and now to add insult to injury we are locking up well known peaceful protestors. 

That’s why I will be joining the South Central Medicaid March on Oct 3rd at 3pm at the old St. Joseph’s hospital to call out these injustices among others. The poor and dispossessed are tired of the system of oppression we live under, it’s killing us. Please join us on October 3rd and stand in solidarity with the poor and dispossessed to say no more!

Tammy, Co-Coordinator of the York Healthcare Rights Committee

I’m a member of Put People First! PA. I’m on the Coordinating Committee of the PA Poor People’s Campaign a National Call for Moral Revival, which is a continuation of the work started by Martin Luther King Jr. before his assassination. I will be marching in the Medicaid March to demand a Public Healthcare Advocate for Pennsylvania. 

I, like many others in the community, am upset about the decision made by the Lancaster City Council to rezone the St. Joseph’s hospital property from a HC zone to MU to build primarily luxury housing and retail space instead of organizing with us to get our redevelopment vision which would have addressed the gaps in healthcare, housing, food insecurity, good paying jobs and other social services our community needs. 

It’s heartbreaking that it took the murder of Ricardo Munoz for our City Government to start talking about these issues. If they are serious then they should start listening to our solutions. 

If we had a PHA in place when UPMC announced the closure of St. Joseph’s, our fight would have been easier. We know there are gaps in healthcare services, especially mental healthcare and having a PHA will address those gaps. We must demand a PHA for Pennsylvania to avoid unnecessary deaths. 

I’ll be marching in the South Central Medicaid March on October 3rd at 3pm at 250 College Ave, Lancaster, PA. Will you join the York & Lancaster Put People First! PA Healthcare Rights Committees for our South Central PA Medicaid March? 

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