ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Expected rate increases in an Alaska assisted living facility system have prompted the departure of some residents, officials said.

The rate increases at Alaska Pioneer Home went into effect Sept. 1. The increases have been expected since February, KTUU-TV reported Tuesday.

New regulations increased the number of tiers in the Pioneer Home care system from three to five. The tiers are based on residents' levels of need. The highest tier previously priced at about $6,800 per month and has increased to $15,000 monthly, officials said.

Eight residents left some of the six Alaska Pioneer Homes after the rate increases went into effect, said the state Department of Health and Social Services.

"With this rate change, elders who have the ability to pay the increased rates will not be asked to subsidize services that others receive," the department said in a published statement. "All funds stay in the Alaska Pioneer Homes to meet the needs of the residents."

The department previously covered the difference between what residents paid and the actual cost, while the new rate covers the full cost. In the previous fiscal year beginning in July 2018, the state subsidized every Pioneer Home resident at a cost of nearly $34.6 million, the department said.

Anchorage Pioneer Home resident Verna Espenshade, who must pay more than $400 in additional monthly rent, said she believes residents' objections were not fully considered.

"Now they say I have to go on welfare, I have to apply for assistance," Espenshade said. "I could have paid my rent at the rate it was and still had a little bit left over."

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Information from: KTUU-TV, http://www.ktuu.com

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