Morning Must Reads: We Are Better Than This?

Public policy in Pennsylvania in the aftermath of the Great Recession does not reflect well on the commonwealth.

Over the weekend, the Harrisburg Patriot-News detailed a new Department of Public Welfare policy to shift more of the cost of caring for intellectually disabled children onto their parents. 

A non-verbal, severely autistic child, Sue Bledsoe’s six-year-old son receives hours upon hours of intense and individualized therapy a month. Bledsoe and her husband get help from the state to pay for these services under Medicaid.

Starting next month, they will be required to pay for a portion of those services — potentially hundreds of dollars a month. The state Department of Public Welfare says it is trying to save the state money and safeguard the services for others in the future.

The cost-sharing plan being rolled out by the welfare department will inflict a huge burden on families, forcing them to choose between paying bills or supplementing their children’s services, parents and advocates say...

Starting Monday, families new to medical assistance will pay up to 5 percent of their gross monthly income for services for intellectually disabled children.

This morning, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports on a lawsuit that has been filed to stop the Department of Public Welfare from ending cash assistance for the poor and disabled.

Advocates for the disabled on Monday sued the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, demanding the restoration of the state's cash assistance program.

The lawsuit, filed in Commonwealth Court, was filed on behalf of three former recipients of General Assistance, which had paid $205 a month to poor disabled people. Gov. Corbett and the legislature eliminated the program in June to save $150 million a year.

In the filing, Billie Washington, the lead plaintiff, said she had been receiving General Assistance since last fall because rheumatoid arthritis and other illnesses had left her unable to continue working as a home health care attendant.

She lost those benefits when General Assistance ended Aug. 1. She has been applying for Social Security disability, but that process typically takes two years, and the state's program had served as a stopgap for many people while they waited to qualify for federal help...

The suit argues that general assistance had allowed the 68,000 Pennsylvanians who had received it to pay for basic needs, such as food and housing.

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