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PA Governor Rendell Announces PACE Plus Medicare Program; Combines State, Federal Drug Plans and Covers 120,000 Additional Seniors.

Urges Prompt Action on Legislation to Strengthen PACE/PACENET Programs

ALLENTOWN, Pa., Feb. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell today told a group of older adults in Allentown that as part of his budget proposal he will be asking the legislature to create PACE Plus Medicare, an innovative new program which will provide a comprehensive drug package for 430,000 Pennsylvania seniors and expand the current PACE/PACENET program by 120,000 people.

The program meshes Pennsylvania's gold standard PACE/PACENET with the new federal Medicare prescription program to create the most comprehensive pharmaceutical benefit program for seniors in the country.

"Many older Americans are struggling to understand their new prescription drug benefits, but with PACE Plus Medicare, Pennsylvanians enrolled in our fabulous PACE/PACENET programs won't have to face those problems and won't have to pay a dime more for their drugs than they have been paying," Governor Rendell said at a meeting at the Lehigh Valley Government Center.

"Expanding prescription drug coverage for Pennsylvania seniors was one of my first priorities when I became Governor, and we did that. Today, more than 303,000 Pennsylvania seniors have coverage for essential medications through PACE, an increase of nearly 50 percent over three short years. While people talked about a national prescription drug program in Washington, we acted in Pennsylvania, creating the largest state prescription drug plan for seniors in the nation.

"Because Pennsylvania will be sharing the cost of prescription drug coverage under the new federal plan, we will be able to cover an additional 120,000 seniors, bringing total enrollment under PACE Plus Medicare to nearly 430,000 seniors. We think we'll be able to attract people who meet current income guidelines, but use few prescription drugs and never bothered to enroll. And we will be able to do that at about half the cost of what we had previously been spending, giving us the ability to plow an estimated $180 million in savings back into other services for Pennsylvania's seniors."

The Governor said that PACE Plus Medicare would pay the gap in the federal program, often referred to as the "donut hole." It would pay copays, all or part of monthly premiums, depending on whether a person had PACE or PACENET, and would pay for drugs excluded under the federal law. People would also be able to continue to fill their prescriptions at the pharmacies of their choice, with the same or lower co-pays.

Legislation is needed to create the new program and the Governor called on the General Assembly to swiftly enact his proposal.

"Paying for medicine has become a challenge for many, a nightmare for some, but not for Pennsylvania seniors who will be eligible for PACE Plus Medicare," Governor Rendell said. "This program will save 430,000 Pennsylvania seniors thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket expenses while giving them the best, most comprehensive coverage in the country."

The Rendell Administration is committed to creating a first-rate public education system, protecting our most vulnerable citizens and continuing economic investment to support our communities and businesses. To find out more about Governor Rendell's initiatives and to sign up for his weekly newsletter, visit his Web site at: http://www.governor.state.pa.us/.

CONTACT: Kate Philips, Pennsylvania Office of the Governor, +1-717-783-1116; or Gary Miller (Aging), +1-717-783-1549.

First Call Analyst: FCMN Contact:

CONTACT: Kate Philips, Pennsylvania Office of the Governor, +1-717-783-1116; or Gary Miller (Aging), +1-717-783-1549

Web site: http://www.state.pa.us/ http://www.governor.state.pa.us/
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Feb 3, 2006
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