The bill is coming due for residents of Alaska Pioneer Homes and for many people it will be a big one.

Rate increases approved by the Dunleavy administration take effect Sunday, Sept. 1. In addition, Pioneer Homes will begin offering five levels of care for residents instead of three.

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 which the state has long subsidized.

"The Pioneer system has never really charged what it cost to provide services,'' said statewide Pioneer Home Director Clinton Lasley.

He added the state has a program that provides financial assistance. 

Lasley said no one would be turned away or asked to leave because of an inability to pay.

But some seniors have already left. According to Lasley, 10 residents of the Anchorage Pioneer Home left after the rate increases were proposed and three more gave notice after they were finalized.

Because there is a waiting list for all Pioneer Homes in the state, Larsley said the spots were quickly filled.

Mike Singsaas' monthly bill is increasing more than $6000

Other residents are waiting to see what happens.

Rocky Plotnick's husband is an Anchorage Pioneer Home resident who's bill will soon skyrocket from $4,692 to $11,185 a month. Plotnick said the state raised her husband's level of care from Level II to Level III, which added to the expense.

Plotnick, who plans to pay the extra cost, is hopeful that House Bill 96 may reverse some of the increases.

HB 96 passed the House last session but the Senate never got to vote on it. The plan is to take the bill up again when the Legislature reconvenes in January 2020. 

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