HARRISBURG, PA — On Wednesday, Governor Tom Wolf was joined by state and local officials and older Pennsylvanians to celebrate recently signed legislation to expand eligibility in the Pharmaceutical Assistance Contract for the Elderly (PACE) and the Pharmaceutical Assistance Contract for the Elderly Needs Enhancement Tier (PACENET) programs.
“Ensuring that older Pennsylvanians have access to necessary services, including quality health care and affordable prescription drugs, is a priority of my administration,” said Gov. Wolf. “I commend the legislature, especially bill sponsors Reps. Wendi Thomas and Steve Samuelson, for working with my administration on this critical issue and passing this legislation. Programs like PACE and PACENET serve as a lifeline for hundreds of thousands of older adults who need assistance with paying for their prescription medications and provide critical support to older Pennsylvanians.”
On December 22, Gov. Wolf signed into law Act 92 of 2021 and Act 94 of 2021, both priorities for the Pennsylvania Department of Aging.
Act 92 of 2021 extends the moratorium until December 31, 2023, allowing enrollees to maintain their PACE benefits despite disqualifying increases in their overall income due to Social Security cost-of-living adjustments. The original moratorium was set to expire December 31, 2021.
Act 94 of 2021 expands the income eligibility limits for PACENET by $6,000 and removes the PACENET premium clawback, which will result in premium cost savings for some enrollees. The clawback will only apply to those individuals enrolled in the program’s Part D partner plans. This will reduce the premium obligation for about 28,000 individuals.
PACE and PACENET currently enroll more than 250,000 older Pennsylvanians. The income limit expansions mean that an additional 100,000 older adults are now eligible with an expected 20,000 older adults expected to enroll in 2022. Enrollment begins in February.
The governor was joined by Aging Secretary Robert Torres, PACE Director Tom Snedden, and the bill sponsors Rep. Thomas and Rep. Samuelson at the PACE Call Center in Harrisburg.
“As the prime sponsor of this legislation, I was honored to work with Chairman Samuelson in getting this legislation to the Governor,” said Rep. Thomas. “More residents will receive help paying for their prescriptions, it will be easier for our Seniors to get that help, and the Federal Government will pay for it. This is a win-win for Pennsylvania.”
“Access to affordable medications is essential for our seniors,” said Rep. Samuelson. “The higher income limits in this new law will ensure that thousands of seniors will gain and maintain eligibility for the proven PACENET program.”
“No Pennsylvania senior should have to choose between lifesaving medications and paying the bills,” said Sen. Maria Collett. “As a prime sponsor of the Senate version of this legislation, and as the Democratic Chair of the Aging & Youth Committee, I was thrilled to see the PACENET expansion become law, enabling tens of thousands of additional seniors to benefit.”
“The PACE program plays an important role in supporting our growing older adult population by helping them pay for their prescription medications at significant savings. Thanks to the sponsorship and leadership that guided the passage of this important legislation, more older Pennsylvanians will be able to get life-sustaining medications and keep money in their pocket, which helps them be able to keep living independently in their own homes with a better quality of life,” said Secretary of Aging Robert Torres. “The PACE Program is a true example of government that works.”
Under the governor’s leadership, the Wolf Administration has implemented numerous programs to ensure older Pennsylvanians including:
- Creating Community HealthChoices to provide more than 390,000 seniors and Pennsylvanians with disabilities the support and services needed to maintain greater independence and age in place through care coordination with Medicare.
- Signed Act 20 of 2021, providing needed support to unpaid caregivers, including caregivers of older adults, by ensuring they have the time and resources to focus on their own needs and personal well-beings.
- Addressing food insecurity in seniors by serving more than 100,000 congregate meals and 70,000 home-delivered meals to older Pennsylvanians in need.
- Rebranding and expanding the Pennsylvania Senior Food Box Program to more than 7,000 new enrollees and launching a partnership with Door Dash to deliver food boxes to homebound seniors or those experiencing transportation barriers.
- Launched the Shared Housing and Resource Exchange (SHARE) program to support seniors and affordable housing by bringing together homeowners who want to share their home with home seekers looking for housing.
- Developed the Property Tax Rent Rebate program to give older adults a rebate for rent or property tax paid in the prior year to help Pennsylvanians stay in their homes.
- Proposing updated skilled nursing facility regulations to improve the quality of life for older adults living in these settings, including an increase in the number of direct care hours a nursing home resident would receive in a day.
“My administration is committed to ensuring that older adults have access to all of the resources and programs they need, and we will continue to invest in the programs that give older adults the freedom to live their life how they choose as they age,” said Gov. Wolf.
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