Alaska Pioneer Homes residents sue Dunleavy, state over rate increase

The Ketchikan Pioneer Home is one of six in Alaska caring for older residents. (Photo by KRBD)

Three Alaska Pioneer Homes residents are suing Gov. Mike Dunleavy and the state, seeking to block a sudden rate increase that would more than double the cost of staying at the homes.

Lawyers for Marion and Howard Rider of Juneau and Eileen Casey of Ketchikan, as well as the Riders’ adult son Brad Rider, filed a class-action lawsuit in Ketchikan Superior Court on Monday.

The plaintiffs argue that having their rates more than double in a single month is unreasonable and made without reasonable notice. They also say that residents are faced with decisions like divorce and bankruptcy as a result of the increases.

Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum and Pioneer Home Director Clinton Lasley are named as defendants along with Dunleavy and the state.

The lawsuit seeks to represent a class of plaintiffs that include any Pioneer Homes residents, as well as the residents of the Alaska Veterans and Pioneer Home in Palmer, affected by the rate increase.

Marion Rider saw her monthly rate increase on Oct. 1 from $4,692 to $11,185, while Casey’s monthly rate increased from $4,600 to $10,606, according to the lawsuit. Casey has been threatened with eviction due to $95,000 in debt she accumulated before she was approved for Medicaid, according to the lawsuit.

A spokesperson for the Department of Law said the department “has just learned of this lawsuit and will need time to review and respond to the complaint.” The spokesperson added that the department generally doesn’t comment on the merits of ongoing litigation.

This story has been updated.

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