Seniors concerned about budget impact to Pioneer Homes
Division director Clinton Lasley sent a letter outlining the cost of care, which could jump between 40 and 140 percent.
Currently there are three levels of service Pioneer Homes provide. Level I service provides housing, meals and emergency assistance; seniors with Level III service may get 24-hour care and hands-on assistance from staff.
Under Dunleavy’s proposal there would be five tiers of service, ranging in cost from $3,623 for Level I to $15,000 for Level V.
In the letter, Lasley said the state subsidizes $30 million a year to run the Pioneer Homes.
“The path forward to a sustainable budget that includes the proposed rate increases was not taken lightly," Lasley wrote. “I understand the effects of these changes on your finances and the uncertainty that these changes place on each of you.”
Pioneer Homes residents have concerns about the cost increase.
At age 91, Stanley Parrott has spent the past year and a half settling into the Palmer facility after his wife passed away.
“My experience in this home is, out of all I’ve seen, it far surpasses the others,” Parrott said.
The World War II Air Force veteran is concerned about how the governor’s budget might impact seniors.
“When their funds run out what are they going to do, stick us on a door in a soup line?” he asked. “It seems like the veterans are getting run over to me.”
At the Palmer Pioneer home, 75 percent of the residents are veterans.
“It was hard at first, you go from eight rooms down to one room,” Bill Brokaw said about leaving his home in Anchorage.
He and his wife Pat also served in the military.
“She was in the Air Force for six years, I was in the Army for two years,” Brokaw said.
Pat has Alzheimer’s and needs Level III service which costs $6,795 a month right now. Brokaw said Medicaid and the VA finance most of that.
“I’m left with a bill of six-hundred-and-some dollars,” he said.
But under Dunleavy’s budget proposal, the highest level of care costs $15,000 a month. Brokaw’s not sure who will pick up the tab.
“They won’t turn us out, they’ll keep us here, however we would have to get state assistance and in order to get state assistance they’re doing to take my assets, everything I own,” he said.
Brokaw also has his own room to pay for. Level I services cost $2,588 a month; he pays about $1,400 himself.
Dunleavy’s budget increases that cost by more than $1,000.
The budget is not set yet, but seniors don’t like the uncertainty that’s looming.
“I wish I had answers,” Parrott said.
The Senate Finance Health and Social Services Budget Subcommittee is scheduled to take up the issue of senior services and the Pioneer Homes on Friday, at a 7:45 a.m. meeting.
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