Governor Tom Corbett today ceremonially signed House Bill 463 at
Country Meadows Retirement Community in Hershey. The new law ensures
thousands of older Pennsylvanians enrolled in the PACE and PACENET program will not lose their coverage as the result of a small increase in their Social Security benefits.
The PACE and PACENET programs, funded by the Pennsylvania Lottery, provide prescription drug benefits to income-eligible Pennsylvanians 65 and older.
More than 21,000 PACE and 9,000 PACENET enrollees were in jeopardy of losing their benefits as a result of receiving a Social Security cost of living adjustment, or COLA. The COLA increased their income just enough to become ineligible for program benefits. Those who no longer qualified for the program would have had to pay out-of-pocket monthly premiums and higher co-pays for their prescriptions.
"When PACE was first enacted, the state made a pledge to provide low-cost medical prescriptions to its senior citizens," said Corbett. "This law is about fulfilling that promise to our older citizens and ensuring their prescription benefits are protected."
This bill was necessary since the most recent moratorium safeguarding enrollees from losing their benefits due to Social Security COLAs expired. The moratorium has now been extended until December 31, 2013. It ensures that participants who have had COLAs since 2007 won't become ineligible for their PACE and PACENET benefits because of their COLA increases.
"Prescription drug benefits are vital to older adults to help them stay healthy," said Secretary of Aging Brian Duke. "This legislation provides the protection many of the PACE participants need to remain in the program; otherwise, many individuals would be hard pressed to afford their medications."