KETCHIKAN, Alaska (AP) — Attorneys in Alaska have filed a lawsuit that seeks to reverse a recent rate increase in a group of state-owned homes providing assisted living care, according to court records.
The lawsuit filed in Ketchikan Superior Court Monday asks a judge to issue a preliminary and permanent injunction against rate increases at Pioneer Homes, news organizations reported.
The lawsuit names as defendants the state of Alaska, Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy, Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum and Pioneer Homes Director Clinton Lasley.
The Sept. 1 rate changes increased the cost of a Pioneer Home bed by between 40% and 140%.
"Our argument is that these rate hikes are unjust and stopping them will limit injury to the 497 residents of the Pioneer Homes," said Elizabeth Bakalar, one of the attorneys who filed the suit.
The initial filing by Bakalar and Vance Sanders is on behalf of Ketchikan Pioneer Home resident Eileen Casey and Juneau Pioneer Home residents Marion and Howard Rider. As a class-action lawsuit, the case has been filed on behalf of all Pioneer Homes residents, which the assigned judge will need to certify before considering the merits of the case.
Marion Rider saw her monthly rate increase from $4,692 to $11,185, while Casey's monthly rate increased from $4,600 to $10,606. Casey has been threatened with eviction due to $95,000 in debt accumulated before she was approved for Medicaid, according to the lawsuit.
The Alaska Department of Law needs to review the complaint, but it generally does not discuss ongoing cases, Assistant Attorney General Maria Bahr said in an email.