If you watch the evening news on WGAL, it’s a familiar ritual – the music swells, the ping-pong balls swirl inside their glass cases and the jingle singers burst forth with “The Pennsylvania Lottery!” March 7 marked the 50th anniversary of the sale of the very first Pennsylvania lottery ticket which cost 50 cents. Established by law in 1971, the program has changed and evolved offering more than 35 different games during the past 50 years including Powerball, a multi-state jackpot game. The program also introduced us to Gus, the second most famous groundhog in Pennsylvania.
Regardless of your feelings about Gus, the good news for our office is that Pennsylvania’s lottery remains the only state lottery that designates all proceeds for programs that benefit older residents. Since 1972, thanks to all who play, over 32.6 billion dollars has been contributed to those programs. (www.palottey.state.pa.us)
The benefits to those 65 and over include property tax and rent rebates; free and reduced-fare transportation services; the prescription assistance programs called PACE and PACENET; care services; and local services provided by the 52 Area Agencies on Aging including the Adams County Office for Aging Inc. (ACOFA)
But what does that mean?
For transportation through the shared ride program, it means the lottery pays 85% of the cost of any trip anywhere in the county for any person age 65+ who is registered to ride in the rabbittransit system. For certain “necessary trips” (medical appointment, pharmacy, grocery store, senior or adult day center, bank, laundromat, or human service agency) our office pays the remaining 15% so there is no charge to the rider. For any other trip (out to lunch, shopping, visiting, movie theater, etc.) the rider pays the 15% fee. That’s a pretty great deal and rabbittransit does a terrific job of moving people around our county and neighboring counties.
Under the PACE and PACENET programs it means the maximum co-payment for a prescription is $15. If you use an inhaler or eye drops, take Eliquis, Tresiba, or a myriad of other expensive brand name medicines, you know what a help that is.
At ACOFA under care and local services, it means our small but mighty staff of 13 full- and five part-time people are working each day, answering the phone, seeing people at our Gettysburg office, in the six senior centers and out at the homes of older adults receiving services. Anyone age 60-plus can come in for general information and assistance, receive answers to Medicare questions, get help completing a Property Tax/Rent Rebate or PACE application, request an assessment for in-home services by a care manager, participate in a senior center or caregiver support group and many other services. For a complete list, please visit our website at www.acofa.org
Some services are provided using a sliding fee scale and some have income eligibility requirements, but many are available just because a person is 65-plus and thanks to the Pennsylvania Lottery.
Our complete budget at ACOFA is a combination of federal, state and local funds. Much of that money comes to us designated for a particular program. Since not all services fall within the categories funded under the Lottery list, we are very grateful for the donations and grants we receive that allow us to provide additional services and supports. We are especially grateful for the volunteers who assist with so many efforts that could never be covered by our small staff.
So if you play, we thank you. If you play in the future, we also thank you. As our former director used to say, “even if you don’t win, we do!”