Tone-deaf Dunleavy needs to reveal his plan for Alaska Pioneer Homes

I spent most of the day trying to get a straight answer from the Dunleavy administration to a simple question about what looks like an attempt to reduce the number of applicants to the Pioneer Homes.

The Daily News-Miner reported this weekend that new entrants "will be required to pay in full" under the Dunleavy/Arduin plan. Question for Dunleavy: Is that true?

If so, it is a first step toward eliminating the system.

The director of the Pioneer Homes declined to answer the question, referring me to the publicity department.

The publicity department replied: “Alaska Statutes’ state that Alaska’s elders can move into a Pioneer Home regardless of their ability to pay. This is true for current and future elders living in the Pioneer Home system.”

After that, it was still unclear to me if the statement about paying in full was true or false.

On a second go-round, the state said the statement was false. And the publicity department passed along the information that residents of the Pioneers Home required a total subsidy of $34.5 million in the last fiscal year.

Dunleavy, who promised no cuts to the Pioneer Homes, never mentioned his opposition to subsidizing old people in the Pioneer Homes when he was looking for votes.

A former state official tells me the administration discussed plans early this year to “grandfather” current residents with financial support for those who could not pay, while new residents would have to bear the full cost of the rates, which would reduce applicants. The goal was to get the homes into private hands.

There is no doubt that TBD Donna Arduin thinks the homes are not a "core service" of state government. She hasn’t been in Alaska long enough to know the political or cultural history of the institution. Even if she knew its importance, it would not change her position.

Shrinking the system by reducing applicants would be a sneaky way of getting rid of it entirely or transferring whatever is left to private companies.

Under the new Dunleavy rates, residents of the homes will have to pay, for those needing more care, tens of thousands a year more.

The Legislature seems likely to overturn the extreme Dunleay rate hikes, based on the 35-4 vote in the state House this spring. The bill has yet to advance in the Senate, but I believe it will be approved.

So why then would Dunleavy push ahead with his rate hikes? Another simple question.
The action only makes sense if the goal is to get rid of the system.

As with all other aspects of the Dunleavy Disaster, there was no analysis made of the Pioneer Home rate increase or its consequences.

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