'Dumbfounded': Seniors react to big increase in Pioneer Home rates
Steep rate increases at Alaska Pioneer Homes have some seniors wondering whether they’ll be able to stay.
The Dunleavy administration announced rate increases that will go into effect at the end of the month. In addition, the system of care offered will expand from three levels to five.
According to a memorandum from Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer’s office:
• Level l care that previously cost $2,588 per month will rise to $3,623.
• Level II care that previously cost $4,692 per month will rise to $6,569.
• Level lll care that previously cost $6,795 per month will rise to $11,185.
• Level IV, an additional level of care, will cost $13,333 per month.
• Level V, the highest level of care, will cost $15,000 a month.
The administration says the new rates reflect the actual cost of care, but not everyone thinks sticking seniors with such a big bill is fair.
Rocky Plotnick said she was “dumbfounded” when she received a letter from the state advising her that her husband, who lives in the Anchorage Pioneer Home, would be shifted into a new level of care.
The change, plus rate hikes, will put his monthly bill at $11,185 — nearly $6,500 more a month than the couple is paying now.
Plotnick called the increases cruel and said she’s not sure that her husband will be able to remain in the Pioneer Home despite the fact that he's doing well there.
“We don’t mind paying but I have to say, I start to look at over $11,000 a month and as a consumer, I have to look at what options are there,” she said.
The state says no one currently living in the home will have to leave because they can’t pay the higher rates and that state assistance is available. But Plotnick said she and her husband have always paid their own way and they’d prefer to keep it that way.
Rep. Zack Fields, D-Anchorage, agrees that the rate increases seem unnecessarily high.
“These regulations are a slap in the face to Alaska elders who built our state,” he said.
Fields is the primary sponsor of House Bill 96 — legislation that would reverse many of the increases. Fields said the bill, which passed through the House this session, also includes rate hikes but the increases would be much smaller and tied to the cost of inflation.
Fields said the Senate will likely take up the bill when it meets again in January.
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