By Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Grassroots groups are turning up the heat on Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett, demanding that he accept federal Medicaid expansion under Obamacare.

One of their methods puts a human face to the state’s uninsured.

This afternoon, an enthusiastic group of protesters marched near the clothespin sculpture at 15th and Market Streets.  Behind them was a clothesline pinned with the photos of dozens of Pennsylvania’s uninsured.

“Right now there are 700,000 lives on the line,” says Athena Ford of the Pennsylvania Health Access Network, who helped put the project together.  She says it’s a statewide collaborative effort, including local groups such as the Philadelphia Unemployment Project, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and Fight for Philly.

(A clothesline exhibit, called "Lives on the Line," had the faces of Pennsylvanians who have no health insurance.  Credit: Cherri Gregg)

(A clothesline exhibit, called “Lives on the Line,” had the faces of Pennsylvanians who have no health insurance. Credit: Cherri Gregg)


“We want to take that big abstract number — 700,000 — and show these are real faces, these are real lives,” Ford said, noting that similar “Lives on the Line” projects have happened in Erie, Scranton, Williamsport, and other locations across the state.

She says the lines will come together on June 12th in Harrisburg to showcase the thousands of mothers, fathers, business owners, and hourly wage workers who are uninsured.

“It’s not too hard to find people who are working who do not have health insurance,” says Ford. “You walk into a hair salon, restaurant, any mega store and just start talking to people.”

(Rosalyn Applewhite.  Photo by Cherri Gregg)

(Rosalyn Applewhite. Photo by Cherri Gregg)

“Had I not had Medicaid I’d be dead now,” says Rosalyn Applewhite (right), a protester from Fight for Philly.  She says she was unemployed when she had a heart attack three years ago and discovered she also had lung cancer.

“We can’t educate our children, we can’t have jobs unless we’re healthy, well-functioning people,” she says. “Governor Tom Corbett must accept Medicaid expansion or he will be One-Term Tom!”

The governor has not indicated when he will make a final decision on Medicaid.

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