By Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Department of Public Welfare will begin charging families co-pays for services relating to children with mental and physical disabilities. The department says the initiative applies only to families who can afford it.

The new charges apply only to families earning more than about $45,000 a year.

“These are families who can afford to contribute this co-pay,” says Department of Public Welfare spokesperson Anne Bale.

Bale says the co-pays start at a buck and are capped at 5 percent of gross income each month. “About 48,000 people are on the benefit and about 1-in-4 makes more than $100,000 a year.”

David Gates of the Pennsylvania Health Law Project says many families are outraged because the co-pays don’t account for ability to pay for more services.

“They are not taking into consideration the very high out-of-pocket costs many of these families have, paying for special equipment, special therapies.”

He says PHLP and state house lawmakers are working to postpone the initiative.

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