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Rollbacks to food, health benefits loom in Pa.

Plus, people who live near the Ohio border tell senators they are fearful after train derailment. 

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Your Postmaster: Spotlight PA Staff
Friday, February 24, 2023
Benefit cuts, game pay, derailment hearing, special monitoring, rare case, lost home, and a slain reporter's Pennsylvania ties. It's Friday.

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Hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians could lose their health insurance and nearly two million could face more food insecurity in the coming months due to two sweeping rollbacks to pandemic-era federal policies.

The federal government will soon end a “continuous enrollment” policy that has kept states from kicking people off Medicaid for three years and stop sending extra monthly payments from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. 

Advocates see the sudden reduction of benefits as a looming health and welfare crisis. But they also view it as an opportunity to push the commonwealth, and its new Democratic administration, to do more.

Read the full report: Shapiro admin can do more as rollbacks to food and health benefits loom in Pa., experts say

THE CONTEXT: The changes to SNAP and Medicaid have had a big impact. Supplemental SNAP payments have given Pennsylvania households that use the program at least an extra $95 per month, often more. And in 2022, the uninsured rate in the U.S. hit an all-time low of 8%. 

Now, the federal government is ending both measures. 

In March, SNAP recipients will go back to getting one payment a month. That means nearly two million people in Pennsylvania will see their monthly allotments shrink by $181 a month on average, according to the state Department of Human Services. 

And in April, people will need to resume reenrolling in Medicaid annually. The department estimates that roughly 618,000 people will lose their Medicaid coverage because they no longer qualify for the program, while thousands more are at risk because of paperwork issues. 


"I think a lot of research has wide value like this, but this specifically I think, for journalists, hopefully they’ll listen to what our patients are saying."

—Jessica Beard, a Temple University Hospital trauma unit surgeon and lead researcher for the Philadelphia Center for Gun Violence Reporting, on a study that examines how news coverage impacts survivors of gun violence

Support Spotlight PA's vital journalism and for a limited time, all new monthly gifts will be matched 12X!
A snap your PA Post writer took on a balmy walk in her Harrisburg neighborhoodSend us your photos by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.GAME PAY: Penn State paid more than $1.3 million to Pennsylvania State Police officers who worked seven home football games in 2021, an expense that the university called “critically important” but previously refused to share publicly. Spotlight PA's Min Xian obtained State Police payroll data through two open records requests.

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.DERAILMENT UPDATE: Pennsylvanians who live near the Ohio border told a state Senate committee they are fearful and want answers after a train carrying toxic chemicals derailed, KDKA reports. In an initial report, federal investigators say the Norfolk Southern crew tried to slow the train after an alarm sounded, according to the New York Times (paywall). 

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.'SPECIAL MONITORING': The state Department of Health recently faulted Lancaster General Hospital for a number of issues, including operating on the wrong leg of a patient and failing to fill the insulin pump of a patient with diabetes, PennLive (paywall) reports. The problems were found during “special monitoring” investigations. 

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.RARE CASE: The family of a Delaware County woman who had COVID-19 and died one day after an EMT told her she didn't need to go to the hospital is suing in state and federal court. The Inquirer (paywall) reports that the suits are a rare attempt to hold a health care worker responsible for a COVID-19 death in the face of protections for practitioners. 

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.LOST HOME: A Bethlehem couple is struggling to understand the events that led to the city declaring their home unfit for human habitation and demolishing it. The Morning Call (paywall) reports that the city identified structural issues with the other half of the duplex where the Wilsons lived in 2021, but the couple says they weren't informed until almost a year later.
🏆 TEST YOURSELF: Another big week of Pennsylvania news is in the bag. Test your grip on the latest headlines from Harrisburg and around the state with this week's installment of The Great PA News Quiz.

LOCAL NEWS: Dylan Lyons, the 24-year-old reporter who was killed while on the job in Orlando, was originally from Philadelphia, 6ABC reports.

FUTURE FACILITY: A $63 million elementary and middle school in Western Pennsylvania, designed with help from the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, is an engaging, interactive alternative to traditional buildings

ONE YEAR LATER: As the war in Ukraine continues, the Ukrainian Federation of America, based in Bucks County, is still sending medical supplies to help the country’s “overwhelmed” system.

SCRAPING SEASON: Be on the lookout for lanternfly egg masses. The state says now is the time to scrape and destroy them — before they hatch.

CREATURE FEATURE: Defector profiles Tyra, Naomi, and Regina George, "Pittsburgh’s extraordinary naked mole-rat queens."

Unscramble and send your answer to scrambler@spotlightpa.org. 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: Capricious

Congrats to our daily winners: Craig W., Michelle T., Susan D., John A., Eddy Z., Don H., Barbara F., Jodi R., Jon W., Elaine C., Susan N.-Z., Jane R., Starr B., Kimberly D., Beth T., Daniel M., John F., Vicki U., John P., Ada M., Nancy S., LJ B., Stanley J., James B., Karen W., Rick L., Dennis M., Dianne K., Bill S., Kathee M., David W., Tish M., and William Z.
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