Kim applauds passage of Senate bill to extend PACE/PACENET benefits

HARRISBURG, Dec. 11 – Majority Chair of the House Aging & Older Adult Services Committee Rep. Patty Kim, D-Dauphin, applauded the House’s passage of legislation (SB 607) to extend the Social Security cost-of-living adjustment moratorium when determining eligibility for the state’s prescription drug programs for seniors.

The legislation is identical to Kim’s H.B. 1184, which passed the House unanimously on June 13.

“Like my bill, the Senate’s legislation would provide critical safeguards to Pennsylvania's seniors’ health and wellness by ensuring they can continue to access essential medications through the PACE and PACENET programs without undue financial burdens,” Kim said. “The bill would enable nearly 29,400 more seniors to remain eligible for these lifesaving programs.”

Currently, PACE and PACENET programs benefit approximately 231,000 older Pennsylvanians, offering critical support and access to vital medications. When Social Security COLA increases occur, some older Pennsylvanians discover they exceed income eligibility thresholds and are no longer eligible for these programs.

Thanks to the last extension in 2021, approximately 10,000 PACE and PACENET cardholders were able to retain their benefits despite Social Security COLA increases. That moratorium is set to expire on Dec. 31, 2023.

“It is of the utmost urgency that we extend the moratorium as soon as possible as time is running out,” Kim said.

According to Kim, the projected 8.7% Social Security COLA for 2023 could result in almost 29,400 older adults losing their benefits due to exceeding the eligibility limits. In response to this imminent threat to Pennsylvania’s seniors, SB 607 would extend the current Social Security COLA moratorium until Dec. 31, 2025.

The proposed extension would be made possible through a combination of existing Lottery Fund revenues, additional savings generated by federal changes that introduced a "donut hole" discount in Medicare Part D, and increased rebates for both brand and generic pharmaceuticals.

The bill is now on its way to the governor’s desk for his signature.