By Erin Kirkland
Senior Voice 

Settlement reached on Pioneer Home rate increase lawsuit


June 1, 2020

A lawsuit filed in November 2019 related to massive rate hikes at Alaska’s Pioneer Homes has been settled out of court, Alaska State Attorney Kevin Clarkson said on May 6.

In a statement released by the Department of Law, Clarkson addressed the dismissal.

“The plaintiffs and the State have asked the court to approve this resolution calling for dismissal of the lawsuit. The parties agree there is no benefit to continuing expensive and time-consuming litigation over rates that will no longer be in effect after July 1 of this year.”

Alaska House Bill 96 was signed into law by Governor Mike Dunleavy on April 29, effectively restricting future increases to Pioneer Homes rates in a predictable manner, and sets current monthly rates at a lower, more attainable level.

Three Alaska Pioneer Homes residents initially sued Governor Mike Dunleavy and the state, claiming sudden rate hikes would more than double the cost of living in the facilities licensed as assisted living homes and located throughout Southeast, Southcentral and Interior Alaska.

Initially filed by Howard and Marion Rider of Juneau, and Eileen Casey of Ketchikan, and the Riders’ adult son Brad Rider, the class-action suit sought to represent a class of plaintiffs that would include any Pioneer Homes residents who would be affected by the rate increase.

Pioneer Homes serve older Alaskans with a variety of economic backgrounds, with some residents relying on public assistance funds in the form of a Medicaid waiver to cover a portion of the cost of living at one of the six facilities in the state-managed system. The remainder of residents pay the full residential rates for room, board, activities and medical supervision, which can range from $4,000 to $11,000 per month, depending on individual levels of care required.

The initial proposed rate hike raised private pay costs significantly, with some residents facing a $6,000 increase in monthly costs. Those not able to pay were often faced with pending eviction notices until their savings were depleted and Medicaid could be approved, a process that often takes months.

Vance Sanders, co-counsel for the plaintiffs, said the new statutory rates will greatly aid Alaskans as they and their families look to the future of care at a Pioneer Homes facility.

“That is the outcome we sought in this lawsuit, and are very pleased Alaskans will get that predictability, and fair treatment, through HB 96.”


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