WirePOLITICS: Farry authors bill to increase eligibility for PACENET program

Tom Waring, the Wire

The House Aging and Older Adult Services Committee took the first step toward extending prescription drug coverage to more than 32,000 older Pennsylvanians by approving legislation, authored by Rep. Frank Farry, that would increase income eligibility guidelines for the PACENET program.

The PACE and PACENET programs provide low-cost prescription drugs to nearly 282,000 Pennsylvanians age 65 and older. Both programs are funded from proceeds of the Pennsylvania Lottery.

“Pennsylvania has a model prescription assistance program to help its low-income senior citizens,” Farry said. “By advancing this long-overdue update, we can help to ensure access to affordable prescription drugs and care, which help thousands of our friends and family members maintain their quality of life.”

Current maximum income requirements for the PACENET program, which covers those individuals with incomes exceeding PACE maximums, are $23,500 for a single individual and $31,500 for a married couple annually.

“With health care costs continuing to rise, accessibility to programs such as PACENET is vital,” Farry said. “The income limits in this program have not been increased for 14 years. As lawmakers, I believe we must do everything we can to improve accessibility to affordable benefits for our older citizens. They should not have to choose between life necessities and their medication.”

Farry’s legislation, House Bill 2069, would increase the annual maximum income limits in the PACENET program to $31,000 for a single person and to $41,000 for a married couple.

Additionally, the bill would allow two pharmacy-based programs to be developed under the PACE program to assist seniors in monitoring their prescription drug usage.

“These new programs would allow pharmacists to review multiple patient prescriptions and dispense partial refills with a goal of synching up all their monthly prescriptions so they can be picked up once a month,” Farry explained. “Not only will this improve seniors’ medication adherence, but it would also save them multiple trips to the pharmacy.”

In response to a recent readjustment in drug pricing at the federal level, House Bill 2069 would also deliver a needed rebalance of the established formula, by which pharmacies are reimbursed for the costs of purchasing prescription drugs.

“The rebalance will allow consumers to continue to have access to their medications, and will ensure pharmacies, especially small, independent ones, stay in business,” Farry said.

Farry’s bill received unanimous support in committee and now moves to the full House for consideration.