Extension of the Social Security COLA Moratorium for PACE/PACENET
Established in 1983, the Pharmaceutical Assistance Contract for the Elderly (PACE) program
offers low-cost prescription drug assistance to seniors ages 65 or older whose income is $14,500 or less for a single person or $17,700 for a couple. The Pharmaceutical Assistance Contract for the Elderly Needs Enhancement Tier (PACENET), which came in 1996, helps seniors whose income is as much as $23,500 individually or $31,500 as a couple. This is all made possible using state lottery funds.
Approximately 300,000 older Pennsylvanians participate in these programs. This year, senior citizens will receive a 0.3 percent increase to their Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). Because of this, it is estimated that 13,000 individuals would be facing ineligibility for the PACE and PACENET programs since this would be considered an increase in their income. Additionally, the current Social Security COLA is set to expire on December 31, 2017.
The recent passage of House Bill 425 (HB 425) adjusts the eligibility requirements for PACE and PACENET to accommodate Social Security COLAs until December 31, 2019. The bill also extends the dates of enrollment currently outlined in law for these programs from December 31, 2014 to December 31, 2016 to capture these enrolled members within this moratorium. HB 425 is expected to be signed into law by Governor Wolf sometime in December.
Did You Know…
Did you know PACE will pay for a senior’s complete cost of medications except for the monthly co-payments of $6 for generic drugs and $9 for brand name drugs?
Small Water and Sewer Program
The Commonwealth Financing Authority and Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development (DCED) are accepting applications for the Small Water and Sewer Program that was reauthorized as part of the budget in October. Municipalities and municipal authorities are eligible to apply.
Grants received through this program are for activities to assist with the construction, improvement, expansion, or rehabilitation or repair of a water supply or sanitary sewer system. Eligible projects are those which have a total project cost of not less than $30,000 and not more than $500,000. A link to the guidelines and online application can be found by clicking here or visiting https://dced.pa.gov/programs/pa-small-water-sewer/.
Applications will be accepted through Feb. 28, 2018.
Deadline Approaching for Student Video Competition
I want to again remind everyone of an initiative the Senate of Pennsylvania has organized to combat drug and alcohol addiction by encouraging middle and high school students to help find solutions to the growing heroin and opioid epidemic facing our commonwealth. “Talk To Your State Senator” is a statewide video competition sponsored by the Senate of Pennsylvania with support from the members of the Drug and Alcohol Service Providers Organization of Pennsylvania (DASPOP). It is intended to get students involved in continued legislative efforts to fight heroin and opioid abuse.
The growing heroin and opioid epidemic is taking lives every day and does not discriminate. It affects communities all across Pennsylvania, and doesn’t care whether you’re rich, or poor, or somewhere in between. Having hosted two town halls in the spring on this subject I have seen firsthand what this epidemic is doing to families in the 42nd senatorial district.
Through this Sunday, December 10, students can submit a video, up to five minutes in length, explaining their approach to preventing teens from using drugs and alcohol. All entries must be submitted using the registration form available by clicking here or visiting www.acommonwealthcrisis.com and clicking on the “Video Competition” tab.
The video competition is available to Pennsylvania school students in grades 6-12, in public and private schools, and will be judged in two categories: middle school, grades 6-8, and high school, grades 9-12. Students will be divided into 50 regions, competing in their home address senatorial district. From the 50 semi-finalists in each category, one first, second and third place finalist will be selected. Students may enter individually or in a group of up to five students. The video submitted must address the issue of preventing teens from starting and using drugs, legal and illegal, including underage drinking.
DASPOP is providing $10,000 that will be divided into six monetary prizes. The prizes will be $2,500 for 1st, $1,500 for 2nd, and $1,000 for 3rd place in each of the two categories. Prize money will be awarded through the PA 529 College Savings Account Program and deposited into a college savings account in the winner(s) names.
The video competition is a creative way to educate young people on the dangers associated with using drugs while offering a chance to win prize money to help pay for a post-secondary education. More information on the video competition including guidelines on submitting videos, content, judging and prizes, can be found at www.acommonwealthcrisis.com, a website established by the Senate of Pennsylvania as a tool to provide information and resources on the heroin and opioid crisis. It includes information on the signs of addiction, how to get treatment, prevention, and much more.
Health Insurance Marketplace – Open Enrollment Ends in 10 Days!
I want to remind everyone that the deadline for open enrollment on the health insurance marketplace is quickly approaching, Dec. 15. You can shop for plans, sign up, renew, or find a local navigator to assist you through the process, all by visiting www.healthcare.gov.
Despite President Trump’s inaccurate claims that “Obamacare is dead,” it is not. Over the last several months, the president and his administration have shamefully shortened the open enrollment period by more than a month, limited the hours of accessibility, and slashed the marketing budget for the enrollment period. But individuals who need health insurance can still apply and receive assistance at www.healthcare.gov.
The Senate Democratic Caucus has designed a website with information on enrollment – www.healthcareforpa.com. If you need insurance or have friends or family that do, please spread the word that open enrollment runs through Dec. 15.
Valley Forge Legislative Appointment Initiative
The Pennsylvania Legislative Appointment Initiative (LAI) allows each of Pennsylvania’s 50 senators and 203 representatives to appoint a student from their district as the Commonwealth Scholar for guaranteed admission and a guaranteed partial scholarship to Valley Forge Military College (VFMC) – The Military College of Pennsylvania. The LAI’s sunset was removed in 2016, enabling it to become a permanent program for interested students.
VFMC is the only institution in the northeastern United States that offers an Early Commissioning Program, which allows successful candidates to earn a commission as a second lieutenant in the Army in two years, rather than the standard four years through ROTC programs at other colleges and universities. Graduates who are commissioned serve in the Reserve components while completing their bachelor’s degrees.
Interested students should visit www.vfmac.edu and complete an application. Applications can be found on the home page by clicking on “Scholarship Information” and then “PA Legislative Appointment.”
More information on the program including the application process can be found on that site as well. Questions regarding the application process can be directed to Mr. Dylan “Skip” Hileman, College Admissions Counselor at VFMC, at 610-989-1402 or DHileman@vfmac.edu.
Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program
The deadline to file for the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue 2016 Property Tax/Rent Rebate program is December 31. Rebate distribution began on July 1 for anyone who had their application processed before June 30. Through the end of 2017, rebates will be distributed as claims are reviewed and processed by the Department of Revenue.
If you need an application, or did not apply last year and wish to apply this year, applications are available at www.revenue.pa.gov or at my district offices, and my staff would be happy to assist you in preparing your application.
The Property Tax/Rent Rebate program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians age 65 and over; widows and widowers age 50 and over; and people with disabilities age 18 and over. Homeowners with a maximum yearly income of $35,000 and renters with a maximum yearly income of $15,000 are eligible for a rebate. Keep in mind half of Social Security income is excluded. Some applicants who previously received rebates may continue to qualify despite Social Security cost-of-living adjustments that may have pushed their income past eligibility limits.
Farmers’ Market Survey
The City of Pittsburgh is performing a comprehensive analysis of the city's farmers' market system in order to develop a plan for growth that improves equitable access to fresh, affordable food while supporting our regional food producers. If you’re interested in participating in the online survey, please click here to get started.
On this date in 1933, the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, repealing the 18th Amendment and bringing an end to the era of national prohibition of alcohol in America. Utah became the 36th state to ratify the amendment, achieving the requisite three-fourths majority of states’ approval. Pennsylvania and Ohio had ratified it earlier in the day.
Offices of State Senator Wayne D. Fontana
| Brookline District
932 Brookline Blvd.
Pittsburgh, PA 15226
Weekdays – 9 am – 5 pm
543 Main Capitol |
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Weekdays – 8:30 am – 5 pm
524 Pine Hollow Road
Weekdays – 10 am – 4 pm
| Beechview Satellite
1660 Broadway Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15216
|Northside (Mobile Office)
Carnegie Library |
1230 Federal Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15212