Lawmakers pass bill lowering Pioneer Home rates

    The Alaska Pioneers Home in Sitka.

    Juneau, Alaska (AP) _ The Alaska Legislature has approved legislation that would lower rates for residents of state-supported elder-care facilities.

    The bill, from Rep. Zack Fields, an Anchorage Democrat, also would limit future rate increases. It passed the Legislature Tuesday and next goes to Gov. Mike Dunleavy for consideration.

    The state last year expanded from three to five the levels of care offered at Pioneer Homes and raised rates between 40% and nearly 140%, to levels officials said was more in line with the cost to provide services.

    The bill reduces prices for the first four levels and allows Alaska’s health department to set a monthly rate it deems sufficient to compensate the state for care and support for residents receiving the most comprehensive level. Cost for that tier currently is $15,000 a month.

    The department, in a fiscal analysis, said the bill sets rates that are an average of 26% less than the costs of providing services.

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