DiGirolamo Asks for Clarity with New DPW Copayment System for Families with Disabled Children
House Resolution directs legislative committee to study system, fairness
HARRISBURG – To help ensure that a new copayment system is implemented fairly and uniformly for up to 50,000 Pennsylvania families caring for children with developmental and physical disabilities, Rep. Gene DiGirolamo (R-Bucks), chairman of the House Human Services Committee, today secured committee approval for a resolution directing a comprehensive study of the new copayment structure.
“Just recently, the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) has begun notifying families with children with disabilities that they must render copayments for many of the services they need,” DiGirolamo said. “While I understand the need to stretch every dollar as much as possible so that as many people as possible can be served, especially during tight budget times, I believe there needs to be more clarity with the structure of the copayment system. There are still many questions that are unanswered about specific details of the plan.
“My colleagues and I have heard from many families who would be adversely affected by this change – families where one of the parents must stay home in order to care for the child and where a copayment may force them to cut back on vital services,” DiGirolamo continued.
According to DiGirolamo, some families are being forced to make the copayments, beginning today, and others on Nov. 1. This new rule affects families making 200 percent or more of the federal poverty level guidelines. For a family of four with an income of $50,000, the family would be expected to pay around $2,500 in copayments, or about 5 percent of their total household income.
House Resolution 879, which gained broad bipartisan support from the committee and from more than 70 members, directs the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee (LBFC) to conduct a study of DPW’s proposal to begin collecting copayments. That study should include learning if there are better implementation strategies to ensure families have adequate support.
Under federal and state laws, DPW can begin collecting such payments, especially from those families with means to afford the copayments, but DiGirolamo contends that not enough structure is in place to start the process and some children may be harmed if their services are disrupted. The resolution was drafted to help ensure that the policy is structured equitably and uniformly.
“These are very resourceful, courageous people who are caring for their children in their own homes, and many of them are not prepared to handle this financial burden, which could result in thousands of extra dollars out of the family budget,” DiGirolamo. “All we are asking with this resolution is some time to study the structure of the new system, its collection methods and the impact it will have on upward of 50,000 families in Pennsylvania.”
The resolution now goes to the full House for consideration. If passed by the House, the resolution also strongly urges DPW to delay the new copayments until the study is completed.
State Representative Gene DiGirolamo
18th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Jennifer Keaton