York rep's bill would save drug plan for seniors

Greg Gross

A bill that would keep nearly 300 older York County residents from losing Pennsylvania prescription drug assistance is making its way through the state Senate.

The measure — House Bill 777, written by Rep. Seth Grove, R-Dover Township — would permit seniors at risk of losing their PACE and PACENET benefits to keep receiving free or reduced-cost prescriptions until Dec. 31, 2017.

To participate in the program, a single person's income must be $14,500 or less. Married couples can't make more than $17,700 combined.

However, with the 1.5 percent 2014 Social Security cost-of-living increase, coupled with the 1.7 percent 2015 increase, some participants would be pushed over the income threshold, causing them to lose benefits.

Without his proposed extension, 297 older York County residents and 16,500 seniors statewide would have been disqualified from the program.

Making headway: The bill cleared the House by a unanimous vote last month and is now on the Senate floor.

The Legislature passed similar bills in the previous two sessions, but the current extension is set to expire at the end of this year.

Even if the bill isn't signed into law by the current extension's expiration date, Grove said it's doubtful seniors will be booted from the program.

"I think there's some wiggle room," he said. "They won't kick people out right away."

Grove's bill received bipartisan support, with some Democrats joining their GOP counterparts in co-sponsoring the bill.

Rep. Stan Saylor, R-Windsor Township, and Kevin Schreiber, D-York City, are two of the bill's numerous co-sponsors.

"These are individuals who are obviously in need," Schreiber said. They will "not be threatened with the possibility of becoming ineligible."

— Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com