Elderly Alaskans could see nearly 140 percent increase in Alaska Pioneer Homes rates

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - When Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced his FY2020 budget proposal last month, it included funding cuts to the Alaska Pioneers Homes and a rate increase on new residents.

Now, current residents have been told their rates may be increasing anywhere from 40 to 140 percent.

Residents at Pioneer Homes pay based on the amount of care they need. Currently, there are three levels of care.

In a letter to residents, Pioneer Home Division Director Clinton Lasley explained that the three current care levels will be broken into five different levels.

For those needing the least amount of care, the monthly rate would be $3,623 — an increase of 40 percent. Those needing the most care would see their rate more than double to $15,000 per month.

Lasley explained in his letter to residents that he would be putting forward a regulation package that aligns rates at the homes with the cost of providing services.

The average age of residents at Pioneer Homes is now 87, and Lasley says more elders moving into the homes today have greater needs than when the homes first opened.

Medicaid can help cover some of the costs of care at the Pioneer Homes. A spokesperson for the governor's office says funding has been added to help residents who can't pay for the services.

However, for those who do not qualify for assistance, the proposed rate increases means making hard choices in their twilight years.

"It means that we would have to spend down all of our assets," Anchorage Pioneer Home resident Bill MacClarence said. "We're not eligible for Medicaid, so once we got down to zero, then we would be eligible for some assistance. But until that time, all the assets that we planned to give our kids and for our grandkids' education would be gone."

The Senate Health and Social Services Finance subcommittee is scheduled to take up Division of Alaska Pioneer Homes funding at 7:45 a.m. on Friday.

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