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Pennsylvania Senior Citizens Get Cheaper Medicine and Taxes by New Bills

Governor says they will pay less than seniors in any other state

Gov. Rendell (D-Pennsylvania) signs tax relief bill for senior citizens at home of Nellie Hughes. Photo by Commonwealth Media Services.July 9, 2006 – Senior citizens in Pennsylvania may pay less for their medicine than seniors in any other state – and maybe less in taxes, if the promises in two bills recently signed by Gov. Edward G. Rendell (D) live up to their expectations. Friday, Rendell signed the PACE Plus program to lower the cost of medicine and in late June he signed a bill expected to completely eliminate property taxes for hundreds-of-thousands of seniors.


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PACE Plus, described as "the nation’s most comprehensive prescription assistance program," combines the popular Lottery-funded PACE/PACENET program with the new federal Medicare Part D prescription drug program.

“My PACE Plus plan provides Pennsylvania’s seniors unparalleled access to affordable prescription coverage and I am delighted to sign it into law,” said Governor Rendell. “We have delivered on our promise to keep PACE/PACENET strong and ready to provide life-sustaining prescription assistance to a growing number of older Pennsylvanians.

“We estimate that seniors in Pennsylvania will pay $2,000 less for their prescription benefits than older adults in other states that do not offer a similar benefit program,” Governor Rendell added.

By allowing the federal government to pick up part of the tab for providing prescription assistance, the measure frees nearly $170 million in Lottery funds that will be used to provide other services to older Pennsylvanians.

Senate Bill 1188, sponsored by Sen. Pat Vance (R-Cumberland) was approved by the General Assembly on July 2. 

Under the new law, PACE/PACENET will “wrap around” the federal program and fill the gaps in coverage, including when consumers reach the so-called “doughnut hole” in the Medicare Part D coverage.

Current cardholders will be notified by mail how the changes to the program will affect them. There will be no interruption of benefits and every enrollee will continue to get the medications they need. 

One of Governor Rendell’s first priorities upon taking office was to expand eligibility for PACE/PACENET. In late 2003, Governor Rendell signed a bill to increase the income limits for PACE to $14,500 for individuals and $17,700 for married couples; and for PACENET to $23,500 for individuals and to $31,500 for married couples. As a result, total enrollment has grown by nearly 100,000 people since 2004.

Today, PACE/PACENET provides low-cost prescription coverage to nearly 317,000 older Pennsylvanians. More than 188,000 people are covered by PACE; while PACENET covers over 128,000 seniors.

Tax Relief

On June 27, Gov. Rendell signed Special Session House Bill 39 (SS HB 39) into law at the home of Nellie Hughes (photo above), which will completely eliminate the Nanticoke woman’s property tax burden, as well as property taxes for hundreds-of-thousands of seniors.  SS HB 39 delivers the largest property tax cut in Pennsylvania history – $1 billion annually to all Pennsylvania homeowners.

“After 30 years of debate and failed plans, Pennsylvanians like Nellie Hughes will finally get the tax relief they deserve,” said Governor Rendell, who was joined by other Nanticoke homeowners who will also see significant property tax relief.  “Today is a great day for Pennsylvania homeowners, especially seniors who have been driven from their homes as they attempt to escape the burden of skyrocketing property taxes for far too long."

For additional information about PACE Plus, visit the Department of Aging’s Web site at For state residents' enrollment assistance, call toll-free, 1-800-225-7223.

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