Bills to improve PACE and PACENET pass House

HARRISBURG, Nov. 24 – State Rep. Mark Longietti, D-Mercer, announced today that the House unanimously passed three bills aimed at improving PACE and PACENET for seniors who benefit from the prescription-drug programs.

House Bill 493 is a package of bills from last session that would exempt veterans’ benefits from income eligibility calculations for state programs.

House Bill 777, which Longietti co-sponsored, would extend the Social Security cost-of-living adjustment from being considered as income until Dec. 31, 2017. Under current law, the moratorium expires at the end of this year. Though there will be no Social Security COLA for 2016, PACE and PACENET are based upon the previous year’s income, meaning about 16,500 seniors would lose their access to the programs. This includes 80 people from the 7th Legislative District.

House Bill 190 would exclude the accrual of interest from savings bonds for seniors 65 or older as being counted toward income when applying for lottery funded programs such as PACE, PACENET and the Property Tax/Rent Rebate program. If a savings bond were to be cashed out, the interest and principal would still count toward income under H.B. 190.

"Our veterans have earned their benefits by placing their lives on the line in defense of our country," Longietti said. "The state benefits they have should not disqualify them from receiving further help when it comes to prescription programs. Along with that, we need to ensure that those who need these programs are not caught in loopholes that would disqualify seniors from PACE or PACENET. All three of these bills carve out much needed exemptions to ensure that those who need the help of PACE and PACENET are still able to access it."

Both bills now go to the Senate for consideration.