Kim’s bill to extend PACE/PACENET benefits passes House unanimously

HARRISBURG, June 14 – Legislation (H.B. 1184) introduced by state Rep. Patty Kim, D-Dauphin, to extend the Social Security cost-of-living adjustment moratorium when determining eligibility for the state’s prescription drug programs for seniors passed the House unanimously yesterday.

“This bill would help safeguard Pennsylvania's seniors’ health and wellness by ensuring they can continue to access essential medications through the PACE and PACENET programs without undue financial burden,” Kim said. “My 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. Unfortunately, that moratorium is set to expire on Dec. 31, 2023.

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, Kim proposed extending 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.

"Our premier prescription drug assistance programs have provided a lifeline to thousands of older Pennsylvanians,” Kim said. “We must extend this assistance and alleviate the worries of those facing ineligibility due to Social Security COLA increases. I am fiercely committed to making sure that our vulnerable senior population has access to the health care and resources they need to thrive.”