Friday, June 06, 2003
  Families of disabled children face huge fee hikes

MEDICAL ASSISTANCE:Critics say the changes are an attempt to force participants to drop out of the program.
Posted on Fri, Jun. 06, 2003

MINNEAPOLIS - Minnesota families covered by a state medical assistance plan for disabled children are getting bad news this week -- letters telling some parents about fee increases of more than 1,000 percent.

The Department of Human Services is telling more than 4,000 families they will have to pay more for the supplemental insurance that covers such things as wheelchairs and personal care aides.

Don Sparks of Ramsey saw the medical assistance co-pay for his daughter Lacie, who is 14 and has autism, go from about $100 a month to $454.

The news was similar for Steven Schmidt of Rochester, who was paying $25 a month for his son Nathan, a 14-year-old who has cerebral palsy and substantial developmental delays. His new monthly bill will be $345 -- nearly 13 times higher than his old bill.

"I'm not speaking out in terms of 'woe is me,' " Schmidt said. "But everyone said there'd be a little pain for all of us, and this is a lot of pain."

State legislators who supported the fee increase as one of several solutions to resolving the state's $4.23 billion deficit say that it just shifts more of the cost to families who can afford it, and that other vulnerable groups took worse hits.

Opponents say that it hits middle-class families unfairly, and that it could jeopardize a program that was set up to help parents keep disabled children at home instead of in institutions. (more)

Tuesday, June 03, 2003
  It's spreading!

Welcome to the The Schafer Autism BLOG, companion to the widely read Schafer Autism Report.

Perhaps one of us needs to rethink our template :-). But then, it fits with the affinity for consistency in which our kids revel. 
Monday, June 02, 2003
Parent dismayed with Tories' inaction on autism

Jun 2 2003 01:43 PM EDT

MONCTON - The parent of an autistic child says he's planning to vote against the Tories on election day as a protest against the government's failure to provide adequate therapy for his child.

Michael Pugsley says a study in California gave new hope to him and other parents of autistic kids. He says the study suggested a form of therapy called applied behavioral analysis had a stunning success rate. He says 43 per cent of children in the research improved to the point where they were indistinguishable from non-autistic children.

Pugsley says he wasn't surprised when a government committee here recommended funding the therapy.

But he says Family and Community Services Minister Joan MacAlpine has ignored the recommendation. "Her own report recommends ABA and it's my understanding that she doesn't support ABA because she thinks it's hocus pocus. Her own study, she signed off on it."

MacAlpine's boss, Premier Bernard Lord, says his government has done more than previous governments to help autistic children and their families. "We have made an investment of $2.8 million more in this budget, which is the single largest new investment for autistic children this province has ever seen."

But Lord didn't say how much, if any of the new money would go to support the therapy Pugley's child needs.


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