Shapiro Administration Celebrates 40th Anniversary of Senior Prescription Assistance Program for Older Pennsylvanians

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania – the Penn State Department of Aging Today marks the 40th anniversary of the Pharmaceutical Assistance Contract for the Elderly (PACE) program. In 1983, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed legislation signed into law by then-Governor Dick Thornburgh to create this historic program, which has since become a national model.

PACE provides low-cost prescription medications to eligible Pennsylvanians age 65 or older. The program works with Medicare Part D plans and other prescription drug plans such as retiree/union coverage, Medicare Advantage (HMO, PPO), and Veterans Benefits to reduce out-of-pocket drug costs.

“For the past four decades, PACE has been an important lifeline to help Pennsylvania’s seniors save money on their prescription medications. These savings have allowed seniors to continue to live independently in their homes while paying for other essential items like food,” he said. Bills, mortgage or rent Secretary of Aging Jason Kavulich. “We are extremely grateful for the support and leadership of past, present and future legislators and stakeholders. The Commonwealth’s continued and undivided support for PACE demonstrates our commitment to supporting the health and well-being of seniors while promoting a unique lottery-funded model that is the envy of other states.”

Since its inception, PACE has helped more than 1.6 million seniors pay for more than 360 million prescriptions. Other PACE milestones include:

  • 1996: PACE Level Needing Enhancement (PACENET) was created to expand the pool of eligible seniors. PACENET covers seniors who have higher incomes than PACE enrollees and have higher cost sharing by enrollees.
  • 2021: In response to the coronavirus pandemic, PACE partners with independent, chain and institutional pharmacies to support the vaccination of 30,000 Pennsylvanians at facilities and in their homes.
  • 2021: Through the PACE network, Pennsylvania pharmacies begin distributing naloxone kits through the Naloxone Copayment Assistance Program. To date, this program has distributed 7,500 kits.
  • 2022: PACE collaborated with the PA Department of Health in a pilot program to provide financial assistance through June 2023 to assist approximately 1,400 registered medical marijuana users.

PACE and PACENET currently serve more than 250,000 Pennsylvania seniors.

“The accomplishments and longevity of PACE over the past 40 years are truly tremendous. Not only do they demonstrate the changing needs of Pennsylvania’s seniors, but lawmakers and other leaders are listening to those needs and making necessary changes that could not have been done,” said Tom Snedden, PACE Director. PACE would not have evolved as it has over the years without this collaboration.” “It is an honor to serve as the program director and to continually seek out new opportunities to support older Pennsylvanians. I encourage any Pennsylvanian 65 or older to check out what PACE has to offer and see how it can benefit them.”

At the ceremony held in the state Capitol building, Secretary Kavulich Snedden was joined by PACE staff and lawmakers who supported improvements to the PACE program to better support seniors, including Senator Jody Ward, Majority Chair of the Senate Committee on Aging and Youth; Senator Maria Collette, Minority Leader of the Senate Committee on Aging and Youth; State Rep. Steven Mentzer, minority chairman of the House Aging and Senior Services Committee; and State Representative Dan Williams, a member of the House Aging and Senior Services Committee.

“Congratulations to PACE/PACENET on 40 years of helping our seniors afford the life-saving medications they need,” said Senator Ward. “As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Aging and Youth, I have a deep appreciation for the tremendous value this program brings to seniors across Pennsylvania. PACE/PACENET helps reduce prescription drug costs for eligible seniors, giving them peace of mind when it comes to this. Comes To their medications and a higher quality of life.”

Senator Ward sponsored legislation (SB 607) that would keep seniors eligible for PACE and PACENET if the income cap is exceeded due to Social Security’s cost of living adjustment. State Representative Patty Kim, chair of the House Aging and Senior Services Committee, has sponsored similar legislation in the House.

“Earlier this year, I was proud that the House unanimously approved my legislation (HB 1184) that will allow seniors to continue access to essential medications through the PACE and PACENET pharmaceutical programs — regardless of any increase in their Social Security,” said Rep. Kim. “In total, this bill will allow approximately 29,400 seniors to remain eligible for life-saving PACE prescriptions. I am deeply committed to making sure our vulnerable seniors have the health care and resources they need to succeed.”

Seniors can learn about the PACE program, including how to qualify and enroll, by visiting the Department of Aging website.

NB: Video and photos of the event will be available on

Media contact: Jack Eilber, Aging:

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