Law Changes Help Local Seniors With Drug Costs

By Andrea Sears, Public News Service
For The Post Publications

HARRISBURG PA – Pennsylvania is helping more low-income seniors afford the prescription medications they need.

In the final days of the 2018 legislative session, lawmakers unanimously approved House Bill 270 to raise maximum income limits of the state’s PACENET pharmaceutical subsidy program for the first time in 15 years. The new limit means an additional 17,000 Pennsylvanians, including dozens across western Montgomery County, now qualify for PACENET’s low-cost prescription program.

Individuals age 65 and older with annual incomes of up to $27,500, and couples with incomes up to $35,500, now qualify for the program, according to Bill Johnston-Walsh, director of AARP Pennsylvania. That’s “great news for older Pennsylvanians who need help paying for prescription drugs, and we all know how hard that is these days,” he added.

Together PACENET and its companion PACE program – for seniors with incomes well below the federal poverty level – currently provide benefits to more than 280,000 seniors in the state. Without them, Johnston-Walsh claimed, too many people might end up “choosing between paying for their prescription drugs, or putting food on the table, or paying for their utilities.”

Raising maximum income levels does not raise taxes, he noted, because both are funded with Pennsylvania Lottery proceeds. No taxpayer cost is involved.

The program is administered by Pennsylvania’s Department of Aging. Seniors can enroll even if they already have supplemental insurance coverage, such as a Medicare wraparound plan. “They can still have that, and then have PACE or PACENET if they are eligible for it, to really pay for those additional dollars that are not covered by other insurance or by Medicare,” Johnston-Walsh said.

For more information, call the Department of Aging toll-free at 800-225-7223.

Photo from Pxhere, used under a Creative Commons license