More seniors would qualify for Pennsylvania’s PACENET prescription assistance program, under a bill that has won unanimous approval by the state House of Representatives.
The legislation, among other changes, increases the income limits to $33,500 for single individuals and $41,500 for married couples to be eligible for assistance in paying for their prescriptions. Currently, those limits are $27,500 for singles and $35,500 for married couples.
“The General Assembly passes bills each year to allow seniors to stay enrolled if the COLA they received from Social Security is the only increase in their income,” said Rep. Wendi Thomas, R-Bucks County, the bill’s sponsor, in a statement. “This has caused a disparity in income levels between those already in the program and those signing up for the first time. This bill is an opportunity to fix this issue.”
This change would enable an additional 100,000 seniors to qualify for PACENET, although the House Appropriations Committee estimates about 24,000 individuals will actually enroll.
PACE and PACENET programs offer low-cost prescription medication to qualified residents age 65 or older. PACE has lower income eligibility limits than the PACENET program. The PACENET program provides prescription assistance to more than 300,000 older Pennsylvanians, according to Thomas.
If this bill is approved by the Senate and signed by Gov. Tom Wolf, this would be the first change since 2018 in the income limit. The program is funded by proceeds from the Pennsylvania Lottery.
It’s anticipated that it will cost $17.8 million to expand eligibility to 24,000 enrollees in 2022-23. But because of other changes to the program included in the bill, the costs will be offset to result in a net savings of about $3.5 million this fiscal year and next.