PENNSYLVANIA’S USE OF STATE LOTTERY MONEY
PROGRAMS FOR ELDERLY PENNSYLVANIANS

 

Contact Person: Sheila Baylor, Publications Management Officer
Robb Kunkle, Public Relations Officer
Pennsylvania Department of Aging
555 Walnut Street, Fifth Floor
Harrisburg, PA 17101-2301
Phone: (717)783-1549 Fax: (717)722-3382

Laverne Collins, Chief
Lottery Transportation Division
Bureau of Public Transportation
Pennsylvania Department of Transportation
555 Walnut Street, 8
th Floor
Harrisburg, PA 17101-8025
Phone: (717)783-8025 Fax: (717)722-2985

 

STATE DESCRIPTION

Based on 1990 state census data, Pennsylvania has the largest rural elder population in the nation. It is estimated that by the year 2000, there will be 1.9 million elders living in the state. The 75+ cohort is anticipated to grow by as much as 26 percent, and the 85+ cohort by over 45 percent. A large number of those elderly Pennsylvanians will not have sufficient financial resources to sustain themselves and will have to rely on public services to maintain a minimum standard of health and to retain their mobility.

PROJECT INITIATIVE

Pennsylvania has a long history of providing assistance to its citizens. It is unique in that it is the only state whose lottery money is used solely to fund programs for the state’s elders. One of the first programs funded was the "Free Transit Program for Senior Citizens". Begun in 1973, this program allows primarily urban elderly to use fixed-route public transit vehicles free of charge if they travel during off-peak hours. Although "Free Transit" is primarily used in the larger metropolitan areas, there are a few fixed routes in the state’s rural areas. In the late 1970s, legislative consideration was given to the non-urban elderly. To expand the concept to meet the transportation needs of rural elders, the "Shared Ride Program" was passed into law in 1980, with implementation beginning in mid-1982. It was the intent of this legislation "to enhance the mobility of rural Pennsylvanians for purposes such as: health care, shopping, education, recreation, public service, and employment by encouraging the maintenance, development, improvement, and use of public transportation systems". The most recent legislation (Act #36, 1991) established an 85 percent lottery reimbursement limit for each "Shared Ride" trip.

In addition, the General Assembly allows lottery money to be used for pharmaceutical assistance. Many senior citizens live on fixed incomes which may preclude them from securing life-sustaining prescription drugs. The Pennsylvania Department of Aging (PDA) administers a PACE (Pharmaceutical Assistance Contract for the Elderly) program that helps to pay for prescription medications. The income limits are <$14,000 for single persons and <$17,200 for married couples. Applications must be filed annually. Currently, each PACE cardholder pays only the first $6 of each prescription and lottery funds pay the balance. This is the largest pharmaceutical program in the nation and has been functioning for more than 20 years.

Another program is "Property Tax and Rent Rebates". Lottery funds are used to reimburse persons with household income under $15,000, widowed individuals over the age of 50, and permanently disabled adults who are 18 years of age or older, up to $500 annually. As in the PACE program, applications must be filed annually.

Lottery funds are also used to support the state’s 52 Area Agencies on Aging, providing approximately 75% of the resources used for their broad range of essential services and benefits for the elderly.

FUNDING

The fiscal year 1997-98 budget for PDA is slightly over one-half billion dollars. Roughly 80 percent of that amount is from state lottery funds. An additional $120 million is allocated to the "Free Transit" ($60 million) and the "Shared Ride" ($61 million) programs for elders.

CHALLENGES

There are sufficient lottery dollars being generated to fund both existing and new services. As people play the lottery games, they continue to generate funds for these programs. After 25 years of successful experience, this may be a funding method that other states should consider to implement programs for the elderly without raising taxes.

CURRENT STATUS

Effective November 11, 1996, a new tier of eligibility, called PACENET, extended income limits an additional $2,000 for singles (from $14,000 to $16,000) and for married couples (from $17,200 to $19,200). Eligible individuals must be enrolled before their yearly prescription expenses can be credited toward the $500 per person deductible. After meeting this deductible, PACENET covers prescription costs with a copay of $8.00 for generic drugs and $15.00 for brand name drugs. Renewal applications must be filed annually.