19 members send letter to Department of Health and Social Services as Alaskans speak out
JUNEAU – Nineteen members of the Alaska House of Representatives signed a letter to Health Commissioner Adam Crum and Pioneer Home Director Clinton Lasley urging the Department of Health and Social Services to reevaluate the Dunleavy Administration’s proposed rate increases.
In the letter, the representatives suggest using House Bill 96 as a guideline for changes made to the Pioneer Home rates. The bill provides a structure for reasonable, regular rate increases in order to keep pace with the cost of care. It uses the Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment as a benchmark.
“HB96 passed the House with broad support, after immense research and discussion during the legislative process. It is a strong guideline moving forward,” said Rep. Dan Ortiz (I-Ketchikan). “We made a commitment to provide for our aging population, and we are standing by that.”
The department also held public testimony at Pioneer Homes across the state on Tuesday to gather input on the proposed rate increases. Alaskans yet again spoke strongly in opposition to the steep rate increases.
“We heard from people all over the state that steep increases in Pioneer Home rates will result in a higher number of seniors relying on Medicaid, leaving the state, and being forced to absorb a huge shock to their retirement plans,” said Rep. Zack Fields (D-Anchorage).
“The governor’s proposed rate increases are deeply concerning to me, Sitkans, and Alaska elders in the Pioneer Home, many of whom I consider friends and mentors,” said Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins (D-Sitka). “I join my colleagues in encouraging the Dunleavy Administration to take a more moderate approach setting rates by regulation, at least while the legislature considers revising the legal framework around Pioneer Home rates.”