Dunleavy, who promised no cuts, enacts biggest Pioneer Home rate hike ever

On Aug. 16, 2018 candidate Mike Dunleavy was asked during a TV debate if he planned to cut the budget for Alaska Pioneer homes.

Had he told the audience he planned to enact the largest rate increases in the history of the Pioneer Home he would have lost some votes with his answer. Or had he revealed that he wanted to end state subsidies for residents who aren’t already broke.

He said, instead, there would be no increases “for now.”

That was then. This is now.

The Dunleavy administration has just approved increases of anywhere from $12,000 a year to nearly $100,000 a year, depending upon the level of service.

The new monthly rates starting in September will range from $3,623 to $15,000. The old rates ranged from $2,588 a month to $6,795 a month.

Dunleavy has proven me wrong. I wrote here earlier this year that there was zero chance of the Legislature going along with the Dunleavy plan for this enormous rate increase, especially since he promised something else last summer.

The House moved to block the Dunleavy plan, but the Senate didn’t and the new rates begin next month.

The rate increase is unfair to residents of the homes and their families. Dunleavy, perhaps at the insistence of temporary budget director Donna Arduin, simply announced that it was time to end the tradition of subsidizing residents at the home and that any resident with any savings would have to pay a great deal more.

“If you can afford to pay for it, we’re asking you to pay for the cost,” according to Arduin, describing the plan that candidate Dunleavy never mentioned.

It’s still not clear how many residents, average age 87, can afford to pay thousands more per month or for how long, so the state guess that it can collect $15 million more a year is just a guess.

Those without money will not be kicked out of the homes. The Dunleavy plan will mean that fewer and fewer residents will have anything left if they stay long at the homes.

No one would run for governor promising to make a change of this magnitude and Dunleavy never hinted that even a tiny increase was warranted. He should be ashamed of himself for this chapter in the Dunleavy bait-and-switch administration.

Dermot Cole6 Comments