The Governor of PA: Do not implement copays or Premiums on services for disabled children.
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Updated Petition to the Pennsylvania State Legislature, July 9, 2017
Dear Pennsylvania Legislators,
Do not implement Premiums on Medicaid for children with disabilities. This idea has been discussed in the past and was rejected by both the public and policy makers in our state. Balancing the budget on the backs of sick and disabled children is not the answer to this crisis. Many families with disabled children are already struggling financially, whether or not on paper they appear to be above the poverty line. There are many added expenses that go into caring for these children that cannot be accounted for. The disability loophole is critical to many families- even those with good primary insurance. The secondary Medicaid insurance pays for therapies and equipment not covered by traditional insurance. And even after that, there are many unseen expenses these families must struggle with, including for many, the loss of a paycheck. Many families must operate on a single income in order to have one parent stay home to be the 24-hour caregiver for their child with special needs. Many families have multiple children with disabilities, as these issues are often genetic. The loophole fills an important financial gap for these families. Charging a premium for it, in many cases, would be a disastrous financial burden for even the most financially privileged of these families. Additionally, it would likely not make up enough funding to help with the budget shortfall in any meaningful way. Please do not allow Medicaid premiums to be imposed on families of children with disabilities.
Below, you will see our original petition from when the Corbett administration discussed this very issue, along with comments from the people of Pennsylvania.
Thank you for your time.
Dear Governor Corbett, Secretary Alexander, and members of the legislature, It was recently announced (http://www.pabulletin.com/secure/data/vol42/42-32/1551.html) that the state will institute copayments on medical services for children with disabilities this fall. In doing so you have taken direct aim at the disabled children in Pennsylvania with these budget cuts. By making drastic cuts to the Department of Welfare's budget, you will be forcing families to suddenly choose between the therapies that their disabled children need and the basic necessities of their family, such as food and shelter. The Department of Welfare plans to implement copays on many services, although they remain unclear on exactly what services and how much the copays will be. What is clear is that the families they are targeting will now be forced to pay multiple payments for services that were previously covered. Even what may seem like a nominal copayment will add up significantly for families with multiple therapies, and in many cases multiple disabled children in the same household. The end result will inevitably be many families stopping therapies for their children. This in and of itself may appear to be a cost saving benefit to you. However, the reality is quite different. With the early therapies that these children could have otherwise received many would grow to become independent, tax-paying adults. Without these services, they are more likely to have more difficulties later on in life and will wind up costing the government even more money in the long run, through either disability payments or welfare payments, as they will not have the skills to secure employment and housing. There are many, many other sources of revenue in this state, but Gov. Corbett has targeted the group that he thinks is least likely to fight back - the most vulnerable - children with disabilities. This needs to stop. We should be investing in these children, not attacking them. This has in many ways become a personal attack against the most vulnerable of our society, disabled children. If the DPW truly wants to save money on disability services, then they could consider enforcing the Act 62 Health Insurance reform law that requires private insurers to cover autism services. This would save dramatically more money than trying to balance the budget on the backs of our children. There are many, many other more realistic and humane proposals out there to save the state money while still allowing these children to receive the medically necessary treatment that they need. I would also draw your attention to an article written by another autism advocate at the following link. It discusses what happens far too often in our society when we fail to provide adequate supports to the most vulnerable. Support, by Jess Wilson http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jess-wilson/support_b_1321898.html Thank you for your consideration.
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