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Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

Standing up for Alaska’s Pioneers

By Rep. Dan Ortiz


February 04, 2020
Tuesday PM

Last year, I cosponsored and voted for House Bill 96, which reverses massive rate increases at the Pioneer Homes. This bipartisan legislation passed the House 35-4 and now is being considered by the Senate. If the Senate passes HB 96, we can reverse the devastating rate increases and provide critical financial stability both for residents and our Pioneer Home system.

Lowering and stabilizing Pioneer Home rates is a win-win for residents and for the system’s fiscal stability. We heard testimony from non-partisan Legislative Finance budget experts that massive rate increases actually could reduce revenue. Here’s why: Massive rate increases make the Pioneer Homes far more expensive than alterative care, whether that’s in-home care or an assisted living facility. Prior to the Dunleavy administration’s huge rate increases, more than half of Pioneer Home residents were “self-pay” and paid the department’s rates. Already, the large rate increases have reduced the number of private payers and increased the number who are on “payment assistance,” or state subsidies.

Alaska has the fastest growing population of seniors of any state in the U.S. Because of our small population size and vast geography, we don’t have the same private sector long-term care options that exist in the Lower 48. There are very few (and in some places, zero) alternatives to the Pioneer Homes for seniors who need complex dementia care in Alaska.

Our aging population is part of our maturation as a state. It’s a good thing that more and more Alaska families are multigenerational, with parents who retire and live in the same community with their children and grandchildren. We should support Alaska families who want to stay together in this great state. We must keep our commitment to the Pioneers who built this state.


Rep. Dan Ortiz
Ketchikan, Alaska




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The text of this letter was NOT edited by the SitNews Editor.

Received February 04, 2020 - Published February 04, 2020

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