Legislation protecting seniors' PACE and PACENET reported out of House Aging and Older Adult Services Committee

HARRISBURG, Nov. 19 – Legislation supported by Rep. Mark Longietti, D-Mercer, that would prevent seniors from losing access to PACE and PACENET medication assistance programs was approved by the House Aging and Older Adult Services Committee yesterday and is positioned for a vote by the full House.

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 approximately 16,500 seniors would lose their access to the programs.

Longietti also supported H.B. 493, which would exclude state-provided veterans benefits from the income eligibility requirements for PACE and PACENET. Veterans or their family members who receive state-provided benefits like the Paralyzed Veterans Pension, Blind Veterans Pension, Veterans Emergency Assistance, Persian Gulf Veterans Bonus or Pennsylvania Veterans Education Benefits would not be excluded from PACE or PACENET if those benefits take them above the income eligibility requirements.

“Both of these bills are vital to ensuring that our senior population across the state can continue to access the vital medications that they need without worrying about something as simple as a cost-of-living adjustment making them ineligible,” Longietti said. “In my legislative district alone, House Bill 777 would keep an additional 80 people enrolled in PACE or PACENET. For as much as our veterans and their families have sacrificed for us, the least we can do is ensure that the benefits they earned do not disqualify them from access to their medicine. It is my hope that the House and Senate act quickly to send these bills to the governor’s desk.”