NPA Hosts Congressional Briefing to Spur Passage of PACE Part D Choice Act

November 30, 2022

The National PACE Association (NPA) hosted a virtual congressional briefing yesterday on the PACE Part D Choice Act to urge Congress to pass the important policy change before the end of the year.

Sens. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) introduced the bipartisan legislation (S. 5109) in the Senate on Nov. 16. The PACE Part D Choice Act would increase the affordability of Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) for Medicare-only beneficiaries by enabling participants to purchase a marketplace Part D plan instead of the one offered by their PACE organization.

PACE participants "shouldn't have to choose between the benefits of the PACE program and being able to afford prescription coverage," said U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-3), sponsor of the House version (H.R. 4941) of the legislation. “We've been involved with PACE in Oregon for a number of years to give seniors more choices and orient care through home-based activities.”

Peter Fitzgerald, executive vice president of Policy and Strategy at NPA, moderated a panel discussion that included Randi Berkowitz, MD, vice president and medical director at Summit ElderCare; Shawn Bloom, president and CEO of NPA; Jennie Chin Hansen, RN, MSN, advisory member and immediate past CEO of the American Geriatrics Society, formerly of On Lok; and Lisa Harootunian, JD, MSW, associate director of Health at the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Hansen provided the origin story of PACE and said the model of care has been a game-changer. “So often in nursing homes people are traumatized when they run out of personal resources and fall into the Medicaid program,” she said. “PACE makes it easy for people to go through the journey of the last few years with the most support, both clinically and in quality of care. It would be amazing if we could help right-size this with the legislation that is being proposed.”

Dr. Berkowitz shared her perspective as a geriatrician who has practiced across the spectrum of health care settings for older adults. “PACE is the best model to keep people out of nursing homes,” she said. “Its very mission is to keep people at home in their community, and that's overwhelmingly where people want to be.”

Hartoonian said the evidence available on the PACE model of care suggests it is particularly effective in addressing excessive and inappropriate health care utilization, improving participants’ health outcomes and reducing disparities, and moderating spending on long-term care. “I hope that members of Congress will continue to work together on bipartisan solutions to improve access to PACE,” she said.

NPA urges Congress to pass the PACE Part D Choice Act before the end of its 117th session. NPA members can help by taking action now and asking their members of Congress to support the legislation.

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