DPW delays plan to implement fees for families with disabled children

The state Department of Public Welfare has delayed implementing a controversial plan to force 48,000 families with disabled children to cover the cost of co-pays for a range of services.

Instead the agency said it would pursue federal approval to charge a monthly premium on a sliding scale instead of the per service co-pays.

“The department has always preferred the option of applying a premium to this program and will be working with stakeholders who have come to us in support of a premium as opposed to the co-payment," said DPW Secretary Gary Alexander. "Therefore, we have decided to delay the co-payment initiative, and families will not owe a co-payment for any services until further notice."

The copay plan, which was supposed to start Nov. 1, drew protests from families with children who have intellectual and physical disabilities and need daily services, such as therapy as well as tests and often special diets. They said the copays  - ranged from $1 for prescriptions to $100 for therapies - would impose financial hardship on middle and lower income families. 

The cap was to be based on five percent of a family's gross income which families with children with extensive needs said would amount to a monthly fee totaling hundreds of dollars.

There was no new date for implementation, pending discussions with families and providers, the agency said.



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