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GOVERNOR CRITICIZES SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION ON PACE RESCUE PLAN

 GOVERNOR CRITICIZES SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION ON PACE RESCUE PLAN
 HARRISBURG, Pa., June 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Gov. Robert P. Casey today accused a state Senate committee of "standing on the side of special interests" and jeopardizing the fiscal health of the PACE prescription program for low-income older Pennsylvanians.
 Speaking at a Capitol rally of older Pennsylvanians representing the PACE Rescue Coalition, Casey said the Senate Health and Welfare Committee has removed an important cost-containment measure from administration-backed legislation aimed at preserving funding for PACE.
 The committee voted last month to delete from the bill, known as the PACE Rescue Plan, a provision that would allow PACE to stop paying for higher cost brand name drugs when an A-rated generic drug is available.
 The provision would save the program $15 million a year.
 In addition, Secretary of Aging Linda Rhodes said "there is every reason to believe" that the Senate may remove a provision requiring drug manufacturers to give PACE an additional discount when their prices go higher than the consumer price index.
 The indexation provision would save an additional $11 million a year.
 "Once again, a committee in the Senate had to choose between standing on the side of the people or standing on the side of special interests," Casey said. "Once again, it's obvious they've come down on the side of special interests."
 The governor said majority Republicans in the Senate have proposed changes in the PACE Rescue Plan that are "just plain irresponsible because the PACE program simply cannot survive a $26 million hit."
 "The changes jeopardize the fiscal health of the PACE program, which, in turn, endangers the very health and safety of our older Pennsylvanians," Casey said. "We shouldn't have to stand for it."
 Casey said the full Senate should reject the committee's changes and pass the PACE Rescue Plan (House Bill 2442) in the form passed by the House in March.
 The PACE Rescue Plan is a two-track effort to pump $96 million into the program -- $25 million in revenues from new games in the Pennsylvania Lottery and $71 million in savings through legislation and administrative changes.
 "We cannot continue to have a solvent PACE program without a prescription price structure realistically indexed to the rate of inflation," Casey said.
 Rhodes urged older Pennsylvanians to continue to contact legislators to pass the PACE Rescue Plan and preserve the program.
 "Today's rally is about older people taking PACE into their own hands by getting their senators to set the PACE Rescue Plan back on the right course," Rhodes said.
 "It is the Department of Aging's version of the bill that older people support because they sat at the same table with us to write the legislation in the first place."
 Casey also encouraged the PACE Rescue Coalition to continue to "fight for what's right."
 "Time and again, we hear about how people are apathetic, that they don't want to get involved in government," Casey said. "That's not the case with our older Pennsylvanians. The PACE Rescue Coalition fought with dignity in the past to keep the PACE program. You've even sacrificed some of the programs and benefits you once enjoyed just to help preserve the program."
 The PACE Rescue Coalition includes the Pennsylvania Council on Aging, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), Action Alliance of Senior Citizens of Greater Philadelphia, the state Association of Senior Centers, the state Association of Area Agency on Aging Directors, and the Pennsylvania State Council of Senior Citizens.
 The PACE Rescue Plan calls for:
 -- Requiring drug manufacturers to give PACE a 15 percent rebate on the price for brand medications and 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.
 -- Requiring drug manufacturers who raise prices higher than the consumer price index to give 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.
 -- Allowing 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: $15 million.
 The PACE program provides pharmaceutical medications for nearly 400,000 low-income older Pennsylvanians.
 /delval/
 -0- 6/3/92
 /CONTACT: Spike Lukens of the Commonwealth News Bureau, 717-783-1116/ CO: Pennsylvania Governor's Office ST: Pennsylvania IN: SU:


MK -- PH019 -- 6277 06/03/92 11:22 EDT
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Date:Jun 3, 1992
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