Yvette R. Long, 50, of Philadelphia, who pushed to obtain quality health-care services for Pennsylvania's low-income residents, died Saturday, Aug. 22, of a pulmonary embolism while visiting her family in Delaware.
Ms. Long was a leader of Pennsylvania's Medical Assistance Advisory Committee (MAAC), which counseled the state on Medicaid policy development and program administration.
Since 2005, she had chaired the MAAC's Consumer Subcommittee, one of the most active consumer-advisory committees in the nation.
Ms. Long, who could be funny, warm, and dynamic, showed a genuine interest in the well-being of consumers, often asking about their health and families. She also helped her fellow committee members deliver a coherent message to officials in Harrisburg.
"Yvette was a passionate leader, an effective advocate, and a committed volunteer," said Jo-Ann Wallace of the National Legal Aid and Defender Association (NLADA). "A strategic thinker with a huge heart, Yvette dedicated her life to advancing the interests of people facing poverty and social exclusion."
Ms. Long understood the importance of receiving input from those affected when policy decisions were being made about Medicaid.
Ms. Long's experience working at Philadelphia Welfare Rights, serving neighbors and clients, gave her special credibility in the eyes of a succession of state Medicaid and human services officials.
Ms. Long became active in an array of issues, including a contract termination between a safety net hospital and a Medicaid managed care insurer; expanding managed care across the state; and pushing to get many previously uninsured patients enrolled in Medicaid.
Her efforts led to her appointment as a commissioner on the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC), which makes recommendations to Congress, the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the various states, on issues affecting Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Her thoughtful, commonsense approach was valued by colleagues and the MACPAC staff.
"Yvette was a strong and unwavering voice for the often voiceless millions of lower-income individuals that struggle to access health care," said Leonardo Cuello, of the National Health Law Program (NHeLP).
A longtime member of the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network Board of Directors as well as the boards of directors of Community Legal Services and Philadelphia Legal Assistance, Ms. Long pressed the agencies to tailor their efforts to the needs of the poor.
"I've seen her rise to the occasion time after time," said Laval Miller-Wilson, executive director of the Pennsylvania Health Law Project (PLAN), in a memorial video which can be seen at www.palegalaid.net/news/plan-e-news/memoriam-yvette-r-long.
She was presented with the prestigious Mary Ellen Hamilton Award by the National Legal Aid and Defender Association in 2010, and with an award for outstanding leadership and excellence by PLAN in 2013.
She was the former wife of Ruddell Reynolds and Michael Gundy, both of whom survive.
She is survived by her fiancee, Kelly Joyner; her mother, Doris Long; sons Edward Torrance and Ruddell Reynolds Jr.; daughters Candise Reynolds and Mikeishia Gundy; two grandchildren; and three brothers and five sisters.
A funeral service is to be at 10 a.m. Monday, Aug. 31, at Deliverance Evangelistic Church, 2001 W. Lehigh Ave., Philadelphia. Burial is private.
Donations may be made to the Philadelphia Welfare Rights Organization, 1231 N. Franklin St., Philadelphia 19122.