Thursday, October 11, 2012

State of Pennsylvania Backs Down on Autism Income Tax

On Friday of last week, the State of Pennsylvania backed away from from implementing its controversial autism copayment requirement for Medical Assistance.  In a released statement, Department of Public Welfare Secretary Gary D. Alexander said -
Oh shit, that didn't go over well.
Ahem, seriously, what he said was -
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.  Therefore, we have decided to delay the co-payment initiative, and families will not owe a co-payment for any services until further notice.

Stakeholders have clearly indicated to the department 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.

Once a decision is reached, we will immediately inform any affected families.
Even though there is a bunch of nonsense in there about "stakeholders" begging asking to pay a premium instead of a copayment, the message is clear.  The copayment that would have caused economic hardship and potentially a loss of services for many families in Pennsylvania whose children have autism was stopped in its tracks, at least for now.

If you are living outside of the State of Pennsylvania or aren't a part of the informal parental networks in the state, you might wonder why the proposed copayments only lasted for about two short weeks before being yanked.

The answer is simple - the measure was stopped dead by the combined voices of thousands of families across the state.  Once the parents, families, and professionals who would have been impacted by the copayment became of aware of what was going on they mobilized and attacked the issue head on.  There was a march on the capital, a bill introduced in the PA House, calls to elected officials, and organized meetings about how to tackle the problems.

I think once the State of Pennsylvania figured out how seriously the autism community was taking this issue they decided it wasn't worth the fight.  It probably didn't hurt that elections are literally right around the corner either.

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