Rate increases coming for Pioneer Home residents

Rates are set to increase dramatically Sept. 1 for elderly Alaskans living in Pioneer Homes. That’s as the administration of Gov. Mike Dunleavy sticks with a plan to have the state-owned assisted living facilities generate enough revenue to cover their costs.

According to notices posted by the Department of Health and Social Services, the Pioneer Homes are also changing how many levels of service there will be for elders, based on what care they require, from three different levels of service to five. Depending on the level of care, a resident could see their monthly rate more than double.

“It’s the same services that we’ve always been providing, we’re just really putting pen to paper,” said Clinton Lasley, director of the state’s Division of Pioneer Homes. “They’re being charged what it costs to provide the service.”

Some have worried that fewer people will be able to afford to live at the homes, and Lasley acknowledges he has had some difficult conversations with elders and their family members about their concerns they will have to move.

But he stresses that — as per state statute — the Pioneer Homes would not evict someone who could not pay and that the state is still subsidizing care for those who cannot fully afford it, through an assistance program according to how much they can pay.

“Those individuals that were paying the rate that we had advertised, but may be able to pay more towards their care, will be asked to do that,” Lasley said. “And then if they need payment assistance, we would use the same payment assistance qualifiers that we use for any other resident that lives in the home.”

The rate increases come after a more than $7 million reduction to the Pioneer Homes’ budget, still a smaller cut than what Gov. Dunleavy first proposed.

House Bill 96 would reverse the rate increases. It has passed the House and has not yet been taken up by the Senate.

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Casey Grove is host of Alaska News Nightly, a general assignment reporter and an editor at Alaska Public Media. Reach him atcgrove@alaskapublic.org. Read more about Caseyhere

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