Medicaid Waiver Changes Concern Parents Of Disabled Children

Waivers Could Be Issued Based On Parents' Income

For a decade, Hoosier families with disabled children have been getting Medicaid waivers regardless of their income.

However, the Indiana Senate Appropriations committee made changes to the budget bill that would allow the Family Social Services Administration the right to factor in a parents' salary when determining whether the family should get a Medicaid waiver.

Parents and advocates of special needs children said the move could have a devastating impact if they were to actually lose the waivers, 6News' Kara Kenney reported.

"Fifteen-hundred children would be denied services effective July 1st, if that were put into effect," said John Dickerson, an advocate with the ARC of Indiana. "There was no hearing. It caught everybody by surprise, and it's such a drastic change in public policy."

Advocates and parents with special needs children visited the statehouse on Thursday to meet with state lawmakers.

Jennifer Charpentier, a mother of two children with cerebral palsy, receives over $7,000 a month in Medicaid waivers for medical supplies.

"Without the help we get from the waiver and the nursing services we get, it'd be almost impossible," said Charpentier. "If we lose the waiver, it will destroy our family from a financial aspect, it really will. There's a lot of families across the state saying the same thing."

FSSA said the changes are necessary to save money and make the system more efficient.

Marcus Barlow, a spokesman for FSSA said 1,500 children being denied services is inaccurate.

"What we want to do is take a look at the income of these parents. Right now you could be a multimillionaire and have your child receiving waiver services and your income is completely disregarded in the calculation, so taxpayers are footing 100 percent of the bill," said Barlow. "Right now, our average waiver costs are twice the national average, so Indiana taxpayers are footing a much higher percentage than people are in other states."

The state pays $150 million a year for the Medicaid waiver program.

Dickerson said the costs are so high because the state has shut down so many of its institutions, while other states have not.

The Charpentiers make $150,000 a year for a family of seven, an income Jennifer said is far from luxury.

"Because my husband makes better than average income, I'm sure we'd be taken out of the waiver program," said Charpentier.

Cost is a concern to Sen. Connie Lawson, who was on the committee that made the changes.

"In order to continue to provide these services, we're going to do something to save some money," said Lawson, who met with special needs families Thursday.

FSSA said it is unclear how much would be saved by factoring in a parent's salary.

Parents and advocates said they were encouraged after speaking with lawmakers Thursday.