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LEGISLATIVE ACTIONS URGED TO SUSTAIN PROGRAMS FOR OLDER PEOPLE

 LEGISLATIVE ACTIONS URGED TO SUSTAIN PROGRAMS FOR OLDER PEOPLE
 HARRISBURG, Pa., Feb. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- Secretary of Aging Linda M. Rhodes today told the House Appropriations Committee that the state's PACE prescription program and shared ride programs for older Pennsylvanians require quick passage of a $52 million supplemental appropriation bill to cover costs this fiscal year and the "PACE Rescue Plan" to contain costs next year.
 The supplemental appropriation and a projected $71 million savings through the rescue plan were contained in the 1992-93 budget presented by Gov. Robert P. Casey earlier this month.
 The budget also calls for generating $25 million in revenues for senior programs from new games and other promotions in the Pennsylvania Lottery, which supports programs for older Pennsylvanians.
 Rhodes said $52 million in nursing home costs in the Department of Public Welfare must be transferred from the Lottery Fund to the General Fund by April 20. She said the supplemental appropriation will ensure prompt payment this year of the long-term care costs and will free up lottery funds needed to pay for prescription drugs through the PACE program and the shared ride program run by the state Department of Transportation.
 "We believe this $52 million transfer will free up enough lottery funds to sustain essential programs for our older residents through July 1," Rhodes said. "This is based on the premise that lottery ticket sales will remain constant."
 The PACE Rescue Plan calls for a total of $71 million in savings in the next fiscal year through legislation and administrative changes that would:
 -- Require drug manufacturers to give PACE a 15 percent rebate on the price for brand medications of an 11 percent rebate on generics, effective July 1, 1992. Current rebates are 12.5 percent on brand medications and 10 percent on generics. The legislation also would make the rebates permanent. Drug rebates enacted through the Lottery Fund Preservation Act last year were only required through June 30, 1992, when the law sunsets. Projected savings for fiscal 1992-93: $26 million.
 -- Require drug manufacturers who raise prices higher than the consumer price index to rebate PACE an additional discount. This proposal, an incentive for drug manufacturers not to raise prices to make up for the rebate costs, is retroactive to Jan 1, 1992. Projected savings for fiscal year 1992-93: $11 million.
 -- Allow PACE to stop paying for the higher cost brand name drugs when an A-rated generic drug is available. If a cardholder still insists on a brand name drug when a generic is available, PACE will reimburse the pharmacist at the generic price and the cardholder will pay the difference between the generic and brand name price. Projected savings for fiscal year 1992-93: $16 million.
 -- Establish a Prospective Therapeutic Drug Utilization Review Program (PRO-DUR) to better assist physicians and pharmacists in providing safe and effective drug therapy for PACE cardholders. This would be accomplished administratively by the Department of Aging.
 Under this proposal, a Pharmacy and Therapeutic Committee of practicing physicians and pharmacists will identify instances of inappropriate use of medications. Physicians will be sent letters containing this information and pharmacists will be informed through PACE's computer system, which connects the Department of Aging with the state's 3,000 pharmacies.
 Pharmacists will know when they dispense prescription drugs whether the department will reimburse for the medication, which will reduce instances of unnecessary and unsafe prescription usage. Projected savings for fiscal year 1992-93: $18 million.
 State Transportation Secretary Howard Yerusalim reported on the progress of the Lottery Fund Preservation Act this year in transferring $26 million free transit costs at PennDOT from the Lottery Fund to the General Fund.
 Yerusalim said this year's budget also will include about $4 million in saving because older Pennsylvanians now pay 15 percent rather than 10 percent of the free transit costs.
 /delval/
 -0- 2/25/92
 /CONTACT: Kate Megargee of the Department of Aging, 717-783-1549, or Bette Phelan of the Commonwealth News Bureau, 717-783-1116/ CO: Department of Aging ST: Pennsylvania IN: SU:


CC -- PH020 -- 2437 02/25/92 14:43 EST
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Date:Feb 25, 1992
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