AARP AARP States Pennsylvania Advocacy

AARP APPLAUDS GENERAL ASSEMBLY, GOVERNOR, FOR PRESCRIPTION DRUG LEGISLATION

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

December 22, 2021

CONTACT:

Randy LoBasso, rlobasso@aarp.org, (914) 439-5204

AARP APPLAUDS GENERAL ASSEMBLY, GOVERNOR, FOR PRESCRIPTION DRUG LEGISLATION

Legislation ‘Provides much needed relief for older Pennsylvanians’

Harrisburg, PA – AARP Pennsylvania is pleased to announce the signing of two pieces of important state legislation that will help older Pennsylvanians afford their prescription drugs.

House Bill (HB) 291, now known as Act 92 of 2021, was signed into law by Governor Wolf on Wednesday ensuring that current Pharmaceutical Assistance Contract for the Elderly (PACE) or PACE Needs Enhancement Tier (PACENET) recipients will not lose their eligibility due to a Social Security cost-of-living (COLA) increase. 

“With a 5.9 percent Social Security COLA adjustment taking effect in January 2022, we advocated for the passage of this bipartisan legislation so that current enrollees can continue to participate and benefit from this much needed state prescription assistance program,” said Bill Johnston-Walsh, State Director of AARP Pennsylvania.

HB 1260 is now known as Act 94 of 2021. It was also signed into law by Governor Wolf on Wednesday. This new law increases the income limits for the PACENET program. Since its implementation in 1996, when PACENET created a new tier of pharmacy benefits, older Pennsylvanians whose incomes exceed PACE’s income eligibility limits have benefitted greatly from this nationally recognized model program.  State officials estimate that the expanded income guidelines will make PACENET benefits available to about 20,000 additional older adults statewide. Currently Pennsylvania’s PACE and PACENET programs provide low-cost prescription drug benefits to nearly 240,000 Pennsylvanians age 65 and older. Both programs are administered through the Department of Aging and are funded with Pennsylvania Lottery proceeds.

“On behalf of our 1.8 million members and all older Pennsylvanians, we thank Governor Wolf and members of the General Assembly, who unanimously supported these two bills,” said Johnston-Walsh. “AARP has a long history of fighting for COLA exceptions and expanded income limits because no one should ever have to skip pills because they can’t afford their medications. These important pieces of legislation will help take pressure off older Pennsylvanians as we move into 2022.”

AARP has tracked the prices of the most-commonly used prescription drugs for well over a decade. Every year, the prices of these prescriptions have risen faster – often much faster – than the prices of other goods and services.

Our most recent Rx Price Watch Report, which looked at 260 widely used brand-name medications, found that their prices rose more than twice as fast as general inflation in 2020 – during a global pandemic and financial downturn.

Prices have been rising so fast that some Pennsylvanians are forced to choose between the medications they need and other necessities, like rent and groceries.

While we appreciate that much thought and careful consideration has been given to improve and otherwise expand the PACE/PACENET programs, help was needed to relieve the burden Pennsylvania families have been facing. Drug companies increased the prices of over 1,000 drugs last year, including those for chronic conditions that people over age 50 depend on. AARP is glad to see Pennsylvania’s General Assembly and Governor respond accordingly.

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About AARP AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation's largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org, www.aarp.org/espanol or follow @AARP, @AARPenEspanol and @AARPadvocates, @AliadosAdelante on social media.

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