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Navigating Pa.'s massive Medicaid purge

Plus, the 'least charitable' nonprofit hospital in the U.S.

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A daily newsletter by The logo of Spotlight PA, an independent, nonpartisan newsroom producing investigative journalism for Pennsylvania.

Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
Friday, April 14, 2023
Medicaid assistance, political polling, least charitable, cancer country, student surveillance, and Pennsylvania's verboten license plates.

Our latest deep-dive into how an alleged corruption scheme in the city of DuBois, Pa., went on for years without anyone noticing is the latest example of the need for tough, nonpartisan investigative reporting across Pennsylvania. That's what Spotlight PA is all about. Help sustain and expand our vital investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account by making a one-time or recurring gift to Spotlight PA now.

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—Christopher Baxter, editor in chief

If you’re one of the nearly 3.7 million Pennsylvanians who use Medicaid for health insurance, you’ll need to requalify for coverage over the next year. 

The process can be complicated, and it could be trickier this time around because reenrollment has been paused since the pandemic began. That’s why Spotlight PA has put together a list of tips and tools that can help. 

Read the full report: Pa. Medicaid reenrollment: What you need to know to keep your health insurance or find other options.

THE CONTEXT: For the past three years, a pandemic-era federal moratorium prevented states from kicking people off Medicaid even if they no longer met income or other eligibility requirements.

That policy ended on April 1, but nobody will lose their coverage right away. 

As you go through the enrollment process, it’s worth keeping in mind that staffing shortages and high workloads in the offices that assess Medicaid eligibility could mean backlogs and delays on the state’s end. 


"As I try to restart a new life and contribute meaningfully to my community, there are times that my parole status — not my actions, but the way the system works — puts my freedom and progress at risk."

—Erik Van Zant, a criminal justice advocate who spent years in prison, on the need to revamp the state's supervision system
» How Spotlight PA will cover Pa.'s 2023 primary election

» How to vote, find your polling place, understand mail ballots

» A guide to vetting candidates for school board, judge, and more

» A guide to the Commonwealth, Superior Court candidates

» Los candidatos a la Corte de la Commonwealth y Cortes Superiores

» A guide to the Pa. Supreme Court candidates

» High court candidates with party backing show fundraising edge

» Guía completa de los candidatos a la Corte Suprema del Estado

» Court decision does little to clear up ballot curing confusion

» Register to vote in the May 16 primary here; deadline May 1

» Request your mail ballot for the May 16 primary; deadline May 9

Support Spotlight PA's public-service election and voting coverage now. Become a sustaining monthly donor and get your gift matched 12X! 
Evidence of busy beavers on Darby Creek at the Waterloo Mills Preserve in Delaware County, via Don N. Send us your photos by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
A beaver pond and dam in a wooded area.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.EARLY POLL: New F&M College polling has former President Donald Trump leading Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis among Pennsylvania Republicans. Among all of the 643 voters surveyed, Trump and Biden are neck-and-neck in a hypothetical 2020 rematch. One difference: Support for mail voting is down from pre-2020 election levels. Republicans are looking to undo years of vilifying the option.

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.MORE RESULTS: The F&M poll also has U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) with a higher favorability rating headed into next year's reelection bid than his likely GOP rivals. WaPo (paywall) writes that one expected Republican challenger, state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R., Franklin), could once again prove a costly nominee for his party, but Republicans could win Senate control elsewhere, the outlet adds.

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.CHARITY CHECK: UPMC Presbyterian hospital in Pittsburgh has been ranked the least charitable nonprofit hospital in the U.S. by the Lown Institute. Capital-Star reports the facility received $246 million more in tax breaks than it spent on charity care and community investment in 2020. Several of the health giant's property tax exemptions in Pittsburgh are facing fresh scrutiny from Mayor Ed Gainey's office.

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.CANCER CAUSE: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is eyeing new limits on the use of a cancer-causing chemical at medical sterilization facilities across the country, including several in Pennsylvania. The EPA says if one million people were exposed full-time to the level of ethylene oxide emitted by a Zelienople facility, 100 of them would be expected to develop cancer as a result.

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.24/7 MONITORING: The Central Bucks School District will monitor students' online activity 24/7 with software that has become increasingly popular during America's ongoing mental health and school shooting crises. The software will monitor students on school-issued devices and flag them for signs of trouble. WHYY reports that data and privacy experts say there are unintended harms to consider.
🏆  TEST TIME: You know the drill: If you're confident you've been following the news closely, there's only one way to prove it. Put your knowledge to the test with the latest edition of The Great PA News Quiz.

In this week's installment: A total solar eclipse, high court election cash, and a ‘severe’ workplace safety violator.

MEDIA SPACE: A Pew Research Center survey of nearly 12,000 working U.S.-based journalists found the profession remains overwhelmingly white. Why does that matter? This 2019 CJR piece on Pittsburgh explains.

OPEN COURT: Harrisburg's new U.S. courthouse will open to the public on Monday, nearly 20 years after the project was approved, per PennLive.

PA REJECTS: Philly Mag (paywall) confirms: You cannot have "FUBIDEN" as your Pennsylvania vanity plate. Someone already tried.

BILLY BIOPIC: Pittsburgh native Billy Porter, who is one Oscar short of an EGOT, is set to play literary icon James Baldwin in a new biopic.  

'DIME SCENE': A trailer holding $750,000 in dimes was parked outside a Philly Walmart. Two million dimes, worth $200,000, were stolen.

Unscramble and send your answer to We'll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag. Answers submitted by 6 p.m. on issue date will be counted.

Yesterday's answer: Rambunctious

Congrats to our daily winners:  Craig W., Wendy A., Don H., Becky C., Jane R., Lynne E., Barbara F., Jon W., Susan N.-Z., Susan D., Bob C., Elaine C., James B., Dennis M., Ada M., Kimberly D., Dianne K., Tom M., and Bill S.
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