The Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare (DPW) has decided to delay implementation of the co-pay program that would have applied to parents of some children with physical, intellectual and mental disabilities.
The co-pay did kick in this month for families with a disabled child on Medicaid earning 200 percent above the federal poverty level. These families, who previously had services paid for by the state, would have had to pay a fee on every service their child receives. It would have affected 48,000 families.
On Friday, the department said it was delaying the co-pay initiative and would pursue setting up a premium option through the federal government for these families.
"The department has always preferred the idea of pursuing a premium for this program and over the last couple of weeks we’ve had the opportunity to hear from stakeholders and it became clear to us that they would also prefer a premium so we decided to delay the copay initiative so with the help of stakeholders we can work to pursue the premium from the federal government," said DPW spokesperson Anne Bale.
Connell O'Brien, a policy specialist at Pennsylvania Community Providers Association called it a “pretty courageous move” on the part of DPW.
“It really is very unusual for the department of public welfare after issuing public notices and bulletins and moving forward as far as it did to implement a co-payment plan for them to rescind it."
DPW Secretary Gary Alexander released a statement saying stakeholders have clearly indicated an understanding of the need for families to contribute to this program. "With the delay, there is an opportunity to work with stakeholders to continue to pursue the premium from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. We look forward to working with them in achieving this shared goal."
O'Brien be on the stakeholder’s work group that will be establishing the premium model.