Shapiro signs Sen. Ward’s bill extending COLA moratorium

20 December 2023- Governor Josh Shapiro recently signed into law a bill that allows 20,000 Pennsylvania seniors to maintain their prescription medication benefits despite disqualifying increases in their overall income due to Social Security cost-of-living adjustments (COLA).

Specifically, Senate Bill 607 renews the cost-of-living moratorium for the Pharmaceutical Assistance Contract for the Elderly (PACE) program and the Pharmaceutical Assistance Contract for the Elderly Needs Enhancement Tier (PACENET) through 2025. 

The bill, sponsored by Senators Judy Ward and Maria Collett – the Republican and Democratic chairs respectively of the Senate Aging & Youth Committee – was a Pennsylvania Department of Aging legislative priority for the 2023-24 legislative session. 

“The PACE and PACENET programs play an important role in supporting older adults and offering tremendous savings by helping them pay for their prescription medications. The benefit of this new law will allow enrollees to keep money in their pocket,” said Secretary of Aging Jason Kavulich. “I would like to thank Senators Ward and Collett for sponsoring this legislation and for their leadership, and Representatives Patty Kim and Steven Mentzer for their leadership and support in the House Aging & Older Adult Services Committee on behalf of older adults across the Commonwealth. I encourage every eligible older Pennsylvanian to take advantage of this unique lifesaving program.”

The bill is just the latest in the Shapiro Administration’s efforts to support our seniors, tackle rising costs, and make living in Pennsylvania more affordable for them. In August, Governor Shapiro signed into law the largest targeted tax break for seniors in nearly two decades with the expansion of the Property Tax/Rent Rebate (PTRR) program, expanding access to nearly 175,000 more Pennsylvania seniors and nearly doubling the maximum rebate. It’s one of the many reasons why in U.S. News & World Report’s recent ranking of the 150 best places to retire in the country, seven of the top 10 cities are in Pennsylvania.

S.B. 607 – now Act 62 of 2023 – extends the moratorium until December 31, 2025 to allow enrollees to maintain their PACE/PACENET benefits. The original moratorium was set to expire December 31, 2023.

PACE and PACENET currently serve more than 250,000 older Pennsylvanians.