Senate approves PACE expansion bill

Tom Carper, U.S. Senator for Delaware
Tom Carper, U.S. Senator for Delaware

The Senate has approved a bill that would expand the Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly for testing in other populations.

Pace was designed to keep frail seniors in the community, rather than a skilled nursing facility. Currently, only people over the age of 55 who require a nursing home level of care are PACE eligible. The Senate bill would waive requirements for PACE demonstration projects, allowing the model to be tested with younger populations. Possible test populations include people with physical disabilities, intellectual or developmental disabilities or behavioral health challenges, or older adults who aren't yet nursing home eligible.

The bill is sponsored by Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Sen. Patrick Toomey (R-PA) . The efforts reflect a recent push by lawmakers to focus funds on home and community-based services rather than nursing homes. Last week, a companion bill aimed at expanding PACE was introduced in the House by a bipartisan group of co-sponsors. In June, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services lifted a requirement that allowed only nonprofit entities to participate in the program.

“We are excited to see this bill advance so that PACE organizations will be able to put more of their innovative ideas into practice for more people in more communities,” wrote Shawn Bloom, president and CEO of the National PACE Association, a statement.