Legislature(1995 - 1996)

04/26/1995 08:36 AM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
           HOUSE HEALTH, EDUCATION AND SOCIAL SERVICES                         
                       STANDING COMMITTEE                                      
                         April 26, 1995                                        
                           8:36 a.m.                                           
 MEMBERS PRESENT                                                               
 Representative Con Bunde, Co-Chair                                            
 Representative Cynthia Toohey, Co-Chair                                       
 Representative Gary Davis                                                     
 Representative Norman Rokeberg                                                
 Representative Caren Robinson                                                 
 MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                
 Representative Tom Brice                                                      
 Representative Al Vezey                                                       
 OTHER LEGISLATORS PRESENT                                                     
 Representative Carl Moses                                                     
 COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                            
 HB 246:   "An Act directing the commissioner of administration to             
           seek a buyer for the Alaska Pioneers' Home and                      
           eliminating the Alaska Pioneers' Home program if the                
           Alaska Pioneers' Home is sold; directing the commissioner           
           of administration to contract for all or part of the                
           operation of the Alaska Pioneers' Home if a suitable                
           buyer is not found; relating to the closure of the Alaska           
           Pioneers' Home; and providing for an effective date."               
           HEARD AND HELD                                                      
 HB 94:    "An Act relating to the management of public schools by             
           a private agency."                                                  
           SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD                                             
 WITNESS REGISTER                                                              
 RUPE ANDREWS, Legislative Coordinator                                         
 American Association of Retired Persons, Alaska Branch                        
 9416 Long Run Drive                                                           
 Juneau, AK  99801                                                             
 Telephone:  (907) 789-7422                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified against HB 246.                                 
 GLADYS KLOSE                                                                  
 822 Jackson Street                                                            
 Ketchikan, AK  99901                                                          
 Telephone:  (907) 225-4770                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified against HB 246.                                 
 ED LYNCH                                                                      
 250 Fireweed                                                                  
 Palmer, AK  99645                                                             
 Telephone:  (907) 746-0320                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified against HB 246.                                 
 VIRGINIA and FOSTER WALTERS, Members                                          
 American Association of Retired Persons                                       
 214 Birch Street                                                              
 Kenai, AK  99611                                                              
 Telephone:  (907) 283-7305                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified against HB 246.                                 
 SYLVIA JOHNSON, Member                                                        
 American Association of Retired Persons                                       
 P.O. Box 152                                                                  
 Kenai, AK  99611                                                              
 Telephone:  (907) 283-4751                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified against HB 246.                                 
 CHARLES QUARRE', Member                                                       
 American Association of Retired Persons                                       
 HC1, Box 3336                                                                 
 Sterling, AK  99672                                                           
 Telephone:  (907) 262-2115                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified against HB 246.                                 
 DR. JEAN BONAR                                                                
 Anchorage Pioneers' Home                                                      
 923 West 11th                                                                 
 Anchorage, AK  99501                                                          
 Telephone:  (907) 276-3414                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified against HB 246.                                 
 BETTY THIELSEN, Resident                                                      
 Anchorage Pioneers' Home                                                      
 923 West 11th                                                                 
 Anchorage, AK  99501                                                          
 Telephone:  (907) 276-3414                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified against HB 246.                                 
 JOHN GIBBONS, President                                                       
 Residents' Council                                                            
 Anchorage Pioneers' Home                                                      
 923 West 11th                                                                 
 Anchorage, AK  99501                                                          
 Telephone:  (907) 276-3414                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified against HB 246.                                 
 EMELY DuBEAU, Resident                                                        
 Anchorage Pioneers' Home                                                      
 923 West 11th                                                                 
 Anchorage, AK  99501                                                          
 Telephone:  (907) 276-3414                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified against HB 246.                                 
 GERALD BOHMS                                                                  
 P.O. Box 80155                                                                
 Fairbanks, AK  99708                                                          
 Telephone:  (907) 479-6970                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified against HB 246.                                 
 LEE CARMAN, President                                                         
 Fairbanks AARP                                                                
 712 Bentley Drive                                                             
 Fairbanks, AK  99701                                                          
 Telephone:  (907) 452-6296                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified against HB 246.                                 
 ART NIELSEN, Resident                                                         
 Sitka Pioneers' Home                                                          
 120 Katlian Street                                                            
 Sitka, AK  99835                                                              
 Telephone:  (907) 747-3213                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified against HB 246.                                 
 ALTHEA BUCKINGHAM, President                                                  
 Residents' Council                                                            
 Sitka Pioneers' Home;                                                         
 Community Coordinator, AARP                                                   
 120 Katlian Street                                                            
 Sitka, AK  99835                                                              
 Telephone:  (907) 747-3213                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified against HB 246.                                 
 ANNE JANZEN, Resident                                                         
 Speaking for CAROL KLANEY                                                     
 Sitka Pioneers' Home                                                          
 120 Katlian Street                                                            
 Sitka, AK  99835                                                              
 Telephone:  (907) 747-3213                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified against HB 246.                               
 JULIA OLSEN, Resident                                                         
 Sitka Pioneers' Home                                                          
 120 Katlian Street                                                            
 Sitka, AK  99835                                                              
 Telephone:  (907) 747-3213                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified against HB 246.                               
 MARGARET NEWELL, Resident                                                     
 Anchorage Pioneers' Home                                                      
 923 West 11th                                                                 
 Anchorage, AK  99501                                                          
 Telephone:  (907) 276-3414                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified against HB 246.                                 
 MARCY BUTLER, Resident                                                        
 Anchorage Pioneers' Home                                                      
 923 West 11th                                                                 
 Anchorage, AK  99501                                                          
 Telephone:  (907) 276-3414                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified against HB 246.                                 
 INEZ WELLS, Resident                                                          
 Anchorage Pioneers' Home                                                      
 923 West 11th                                                                 
 Anchorage, AK  99501                                                          
 Telephone:  (907) 276-3414                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified against HB 246.                                 
 ROBERLY WALDRON, former Deputy Commissioner                                   
 Department of Administration                                                  
 2200 Belmont Drive                                                            
 Anchorage, AK  99517                                                          
 Telephone:  (907) 338-4213                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified against HB 246.                                 
 EUGENE SMITH                                                                  
 2009 Dimond Drive                                                             
 Anchorage, AK  99507                                                          
 Telephone:  (907) 563-7335                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified against HB 246.                                 
 KATHY DIETRICH, Business Agent                                                
 Alaska State Employees Association                                            
 1951 Red Leaf Road                                                            
 Fairbanks, AK  99709                                                          
 Telephone:  (907) 455-6064                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified against HB 246.                                 
 PREVIOUS ACTION                                                               
 BILL:  HB 246                                                               
 SHORT TITLE: OPERATION OF PIONEERS' HOME                                      
 SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) G.DAVIS                                         
 JRN-DATE      JRN-PG              ACTION                                      
 03/09/95       677    (H)   READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S)                 
 03/09/95       677    (H)   HES, STATE AFFAIRS, FINANCE                       
 04/11/95              (H)   HES AT 02:00 PM CAPITOL 106                       
 04/18/95              (H)   HES AT 10:00 AM CAPITOL 106                       
 04/18/95              (H)   MINUTE(HES)                                       
 04/26/95              (H)   HES AT 08:30 AM CAPITOL 106                       
 ACTION NARRATIVE                                                              
 TAPE 95-42, SIDE A                                                            
 Number 000                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR CON BUNDE called the meeting of the House Health,                    
 Education and Social Services standing committee to order at 8:36             
 a.m.  Present at the call to order were Representatives Toohey,               
 Bunde and Davis.  A quorum was not present to conduct business.               
 Co-Chair Bunde read the calendar.  He recognized the presence of              
 Representative Carl Moses, and invited him to sit at the committee            
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE turned the gavel over to HESS Committee Vice-Chair             
 Gary Davis, who is also the primary sponsor and author of HB 246.             
 HB 246 - OPERATION OF PIONEERS' HOME                                        
 Number 090                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE GARY DAVIS noted this bill was being heard for the             
 second time.  The intent of the hearing is to listen to all the               
 concerns and get some understanding of the current operations of              
 the Pioneers' Homes.  HESS Committee members would like to get some           
 input as to the validity of the proposed HB 246.  Representative              
 Davis has also requested that HB 246 and the entire issue be                  
 studied intensely and discussed thoroughly by a task force over the           
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS wanted to make it clear that HB 246 and the              
 provisions within are not immediately imminent.  Therefore, all               
 concerned parties can "sit back and relax."  Representative Davis             
 assured current residents of the Pioneers' Homes that they can                
 relax at any stage of the process because it is not his intent to             
 disrupt any existing residents of the homes.                                  
 Number 215                                                                    
 RUPE ANDREWS, Legislative Coordinator, American Association of                
 Retired Persons (AARP), Alaska Branch, said the AARP has many                 
 concerns with the bill.  At present, the AARP is opposed to the               
 bill for two reasons.  First, the bill is untimely because if it              
 passes in its present form, it will reverse 35 years of public                
 policy without adequate public debate or dialogue.  Secondly, it is           
 causing a lot of concern, anguish and frustration among the                   
 residents of the pioneers' homes.                                             
 MR. ANDREWS said those residents feel, rightly or wrongly, that               
 they have a contract with the state.  Those residents are not sure            
 of their future, what is going to happen to them, and what is going           
 to happen to the pioneers' homes.  As a matter of public policy,              
 the AARP feels the right approach is for the legislature to                   
 establish a bipartisan task force to study the issues and the                 
 options.  The task force should study the problems and how to solve           
 Number 296                                                                    
 MR. ANDREWS said pioneers' homes are unique to Alaska.  Visitors              
 admire them, and go back to their own states and wonder why their             
 home states cannot do something like it.  Those homes were set up             
 originally to do something about the old pioneers.  The homes have            
 since progressed.                                                             
 MR. ANDREWS said people in the homes live in dignity.  They live in           
 a free, open atmosphere.  Mr. Andrews invited HESS Committee                  
 members to visit the Juneau Pioneers' Home to experience the                  
 quality of the place.  To reverse the pioneers' home policy without           
 adequate dialogue and public input is not the right way to go on              
 public policy.                                                                
 MR. ANDREWS asked if the value of the pioneers' homes had been                
 appraised.  According to HB 246, residents would have about five              
 years of care under the contract.  But the price will probably be             
 so prohibitive that whoever purchases or even leases the pioneers'            
 homes will not be able to survive financially.  Mr. Andrews asked             
 what would happen to the residents of the pioneers' homes then.               
 Number 390                                                                    
 MR. ANDREWS said the best approach to these issues, because they              
 deal with a long-term, public policy, is to establish a bipartisan            
 task force to study the issues, and then return with the                      
 legislation if it is required.                                                
 Number 406                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR CYNTHIA TOOHEY asked if Mr. Andrews was present last year            
 when the pioneers' home task force was started by the                         
 MR. ANDREWS said he was not present.                                          
 CO-CHAIR TOOHEY said the task force was quite involved, and                   
 testimony was taken from all across the state.  Co-Chair Toohey               
 said last year, the same thing happened--residents panicked and               
 said, "You people are going to throw me out onto the street."  She            
 noted Representative Davis has said it is nobody's intention to               
 throw anyone into the street.                                                 
 CO-CHAIR TOOHEY warned Mr. Andrews that to say residents are going            
 to be thrown out into the street is to cause all kinds of fright.             
 This bill has nothing to do with throwing anybody into the street.            
 She asked Mr. Andrews to please stop that kind of rumor, and pass             
 the word along that no one is going into the street.                          
 MR. ANDREWS said residents have contacted the AARP, and they are              
 very concerned.  This bill is causing some anguish.                           
 CO-CHAIR TOOHEY apologized for the anguish, and reiterated there is           
 no intention to put anyone out of the homes.  She again asked Mr.             
 Andrews to reassure people whenever he hears such a rumor.                    
 Number 500                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS announced that Representative Robinson and               
 Representative Rokeberg joined the meeting at 8:40 a.m.  A quorum             
 was now present to conduct business.                                          
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE said the problem he foresees is much like the                  
 problem with the longevity bonus.  There are the "haves," the "have           
 nots," and then the lawsuit.  Currently, there are the "haves,"               
 those who get about a $50,000 subsidy from the state by being in a            
 pioneers' home.  There are many people who cannot be in the                   
 pioneers' homes.  As the legislature investigates this issue and              
 looks for a solution, he would hope the AARP would help the                   
 legislature come up with a solution that addresses that "have-have            
 not" issue.  The financial realities must also be dealt with.                 
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE said the legislature has worked all session to cut             
 the budget, and yet he just heard the news that $100 million has              
 been lost this year.  Co-Chair Bunde said Co-Chair Toohey has an              
 expression that he likes to use, "We are not the enemy, we are just           
 trying to do a job."                                                          
 Number 588                                                                    
 MR. ANDREWS recalled that last session, the AARP worked with the              
 Administration on the bill which aimed to phase out the longevity             
 bonus.  The AARP supported that bill right through to the end of              
 the session.  Mr. Andrews asked to respond to the sponsor's                   
 statement on HB 246.  The first sentence reads, "The purpose of HB
 246 is to direct the commissioner of administration to seek a                 
 suitable buyer for the Alaska Pioneers' Homes."                               
 MR. ANDREWS said when individuals, particularly residents of the              
 pioneers' homes, read the bill they immediately become upset.  That           
 first statement says much to them.  The commissioner is directed to           
 seek a buyer.  The next question those residents have is, "What               
 happens to us?"  That is a valid question.                                    
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE noted Co-Chair Toohey had said the current residents           
 are held harmless.  However, Co-Chair Bunde does not agree because            
 some residents would remain at the subsidized rate, and new                   
 residents will have to pay their own way.  This would never                   
 withstand a court challenge.  Co-Chair Bunde therefore does not               
 agree that current residents would be held harmless.                          
 Number 659                                                                    
 GLADYS KLOSE testified via teleconference that she is very upset by           
 HB 246.  She thinks the long-time residents of Alaska have worked             
 very hard to establish these homes, and the homes could not exist             
 under private ownership, because private owners have to make a                
 profit.  A change from state management could force many seniors to           
 leave Alaska.  She strongly opposed HB 246.                                   
 MS. KLOSE said the pioneers' home system works as it is, and should           
 not be taken away from the old-timers.                                        
 Number 773                                                                    
 ED LYNCH testified via teleconference that he has been a resident             
 of the Homer Pioneers' Home for eight years.  He does not speak for           
 the other residents, but they have been telling him they are all              
 very concerned about the possibility of the homes being sold and              
 the consequences of that.  The residents realized that when and if            
 the homes are sold, the charges to stay at the homes would                    
 skyrocket.  Very few residents could meet the new rates.                      
 MR. LYNCH said the purchaser would have government programs to fall           
 back on for their revenue.  The purchaser would look at that,                 
 because they are nonprofit organizations.  This bill could not have           
 come up at a worse time, when there is talk of discontinuing the              
 permanent fund and cutting the longevity program.  This is very               
 traumatic to the residents of the homes.                                      
 MR. LYNCH noted that one resident told him, "These things hang over           
 our heads on a thread."  The state must cut back on the funding of            
 some programs, because the cash flow is not what it was a few years           
 ago, and overspending has occurred in many areas.  However, such a            
 drastic measure as selling the pioneers' homes to make up for the             
 shortfall is unthinkable.  Mr. Lynch hopes HESS Committee members             
 would see to it that this bill never comes to a vote, and find                
 other ways to be good stewards of the state's money.                          
 Number 857                                                                    
 MR. LYNCH has spent all his life in Alaska, and many he knows have            
 spent most of their lives in this state.  He feels as if he is                
 being betrayed by the new breed of legislators.                               
 Number 880                                                                    
 VIRGINIA WALTERS testified via teleconference that she is adamantly           
 opposed to HB 246.  She still fears, despite the legislators'                 
 assurances, that the homes will be closed.  She read one of the               
 statements in the long title of the bill, which says, "...relating            
 to the closure of the Alaska Pioneers' Home; and providing for an             
 effective date."  She thinks everyone needs to be aware that those            
 words are there.  She asked that the bill not come to vote.                   
 Number 921                                                                    
 FOSTER WALTERS testified via teleconference in opposition to HB 246           
 as it will make cost of staying in the homes prohibitive.                     
 Number 937                                                                    
 SYLVIA JOHNSON testified via teleconference that she also opposes             
 HB 246.  The bill is premature and not too well thought out.                  
 Number 955                                                                    
 CHARLES QUARRE', District Director, AARP, testified via                       
 teleconference.  He stated if the homes are sold to a private                 
 enterprise, the private enterprise obviously wants to make a                  
 profit.  He asked why the state cannot operate these homes on a               
 break-even basis.                                                             
 MR. QUARRE' also stated that if a private property owner is going             
 to operate the pioneers' homes at the same level and is to make a             
 profit, the rents will have to be raised or the services will have            
 to be cut.  If the rents are raised and the services cut, the                 
 marginal people in these homes will be out on the street.                     
 MR. QUARRE' continued that the legislature knows the seniors in               
 this state represent a large voting block.  The AARP alone has over           
 44,000 members, or almost 8 percent of the total population of the            
 state.  These seniors recognize there is a problem with the budget            
 and they want to help be part of the solution.  However, the                  
 seniors want to make sure the money goes to reduce the budget and             
 is not used for other circumstances if this money comes into the              
 Number 1024                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS answered Mr. Quarre's question as to why the             
 state cannot run a break-even operation.  That is the question many           
 people have.  But the answer is quite obvious.  Every facility has            
 a cost per day per resident.  That cost would be prohibitive                  
 currently for most residents.  There are some things that can be              
 done in that regard, and one of those options is to become Medicaid           
 eligible.  That would be the first step.  There are a lot of                  
 Medicaid eligible residents.                                                  
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS said, "That would draw from another pot of               
 money which is still tax dollars, it would be federal tax dollars,            
 but it would be even with all of those who are eligible for                   
 Medicaid in other situations where the federal government pays 50             
 percent and the state pays 50 percent."                                       
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS continued that there are many things being               
 done currently to improve the financial situations of the pioneers'           
 homes and the cost of operation.  There will continue to be                   
 efficiencies provided.  HB 246 is of course drawing additional                
 attention to that situation, and looking at alternatives.                     
 Number 1099                                                                   
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE commented that there is not, in his experience, any            
 state agency that can run cheaper or more efficiently than a                  
 private agency.  The legislature is currently attempting to reduce            
 state workers' compensation because private industry cannot                   
 compete.  When people have a chance to work for the state, they               
 leave private industry because the state pays more and has better             
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE recalled the question about the cost per day per               
 resident.  He also wanted to know what the state pays annually for            
 the pioneers' homes.                                                          
 Number 1140                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS said the total budget for the pioneers' homes            
 is over $30 million.  There is about $5 million in revenues.                  
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE concluded "it would be $25 million net,                        
 approximately."   He asked what that breaks down into residents per           
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS said he had not calculated that amount.                  
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE wanted to assure Mr. Quarre' there is no way he                
 would support a reduction in the state expenditures of the                    
 pioneers' homes only to have it transferred to another entity.  The           
 legislature has worked all session to reduce state spending in                
 light of the budget deficit, only to find out that the latest                 
 forecast is more than double of any reduction.  The latest forecast           
 of the increase of the deficit is more than double of any decrease            
 the legislature could hope for.  The legislature is fighting a                
 losing battle.                                                                
 Number 1196                                                                   
 DR. JEAN BONAR had written a letter which was read to HESS                    
 Committee members via teleconference.  Dr. Bonar has practiced                
 medicine at the Anchorage Pioneers' Home for 20 years, and sees a             
 number of elderly patients.   She wrote: "The Alaska population               
 that is over 65 is the fastest growing segment of the Alaska                  
 population because many of these residents who moved here during              
 the forties, fifties and even sixties to build here in this great             
 state have reached retirement age.                                            
 DR. BONAR'S letter continued.  "Many of this group do not have the            
 present income to afford care outside their home if they grow                 
 infirm and incapable of living independently.  In this economy,               
 their incomes are often inadequate, and if they have any                      
 disabilities or infirmities and cannot live independently, they               
 must leave the state to find retirement homes where they can have             
 "For example, there are two patients I would like to describe to              
 you.  Carl was in his seventies and a construction builder from the           
 forties.  He could not live independently because of a stroke, and            
 his wife had emphysema so she could not adequately care for him.              
 They ended up moving to a trailer park in Southern California,                
 where together their income could just barely pay.  They did not              
 have adequate medical help.  They were about $100 over what would             
 have qualified them for Medicaid.                                             
 "Another patient, whom I'll call Priscilla, has multiple sclerosis            
 and diabetes.  She is in her sixties and retired as a clerk from              
 the federal government, had to sell her condo, furniture, carpet,             
 car, everything, because her civil service retirement was not                 
 enough to afford the (indisc.) Program Home or Our Lady of                    
 Compassion.  And the pioneers' home list was long indeed, and she             
 needed (indisc. -coughing).                                                   
 "She had lived here for 30 years, and all her friends were here.              
 She had to leave the state for Washington, where she lived for a              
 short time with an elderly sister, not receiving adequate care.               
 The quality of care cannot extend rapidly enough to take care of              
 the older population.  The state is obliged to provide an                     
 opportunity for these seniors to live out the rest of their lives             
 near their lifelong friends, and to live in a state that they                 
 dedicated their lives to building.  Thank you, Dr. Jean Bonar, 3260           
 Providence Drive, Suite 523."                                                 
 Number 1410                                                                   
 BETTY THIELSEN testified via teleconference that one of her                   
 employed senior friends, who has lived in Alaska for over 40 years,           
 said she will not be eligible to enter the pioneers' home because             
 of the present one-year residency clause for admission.  Ms.                  
 Thielsen would like for more pioneers' homes to be built for                  
 persons wishing residential care as is enjoyed in Anchorage.                  
 MS. THIELSEN said she does not want a business, like Providence               
 Hospital, to purchase the pioneers' homes.  They would place                  
 persons needing nursing care only.                                            
 Number 1448                                                                   
 MS. THIELSEN recalled that years ago, when she inquired about the             
 cost of living in Lady of Compassion, she was told it was $8,000              
 per month.  At that time, some of the residents' care was                     
 supplemented by the Veterans' Administration or the state of Alaska           
 Welfare Department.  She called again on April 18, and the cost to            
 live at Our Lady of Compassion is $261 per day.  Therefore, the               
 cost per month would be $7,830 excluding therapy.                             
 Number 1483                                                                   
 JOHN GIBBONS, President, Residents' Council, Anchorage Pioneers'              
 Home, asked about the current status of HB 246 at this time.                  
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS answered that the bill was being heard in the            
 House HESS Committee.  There is no companion bill as of yet in the            
 Senate.  It is intended that the bill stay in a House HESS                    
 subcommittee during the interim.                                              
 MR. GIBBONS asked if the bill would move before the end of the                
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS said the bill would not move this year.                  
 MR. GIBBONS asked if the bill was dead for this year.                         
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS answered yes.                                            
 Number 1518                                                                   
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE clarified that "dead" means there is no work to be             
 done on the bill, and that is not the case.  The bill will be                 
 worked on in a subcommittee during the summer and fall.                       
 Undoubtedly, the bill will be brought up again the next legislative           
 session, which is in the spring of 1996.  There will be ongoing               
 work to reduce the impact of the bill on everyone as much as                  
 possible, realizing that no bill can actually please everyone.                
 CO-CHAIR TOOHEY told Mr. Gibbons that testimony will be taken on              
 this bill, and work groups will be conducted in Anchorage so there            
 will be public input.  She asked Mr. Gibbons to pass along the                
 assurance that this bill should not panic or worry anyone.  This is           
 just a committee, and Representative Davis is trying to get people            
 to realize that a problem exists.  Everyone can work together to              
 find solutions.  No one is being thrown out onto the street.                  
 MR. GIBBONS thanked her for the reassurance.  He asked if HESS                
 Committee members had seen an article in the Sitka Sentinel written           
 by Pioneer R.N. DeArmond.                                                     
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS said the HESS Committee members had testimony            
 written by Mr. DeArmond.                                                      
 MR. GIBBONS said Mr. DeArmond is a great pioneer, and one of the              
 greatest historians in the state.  He suggested that a commission             
 be formed by various organizations.  The commission should include            
 pioneers of Alaska, as well as residents of pioneers' homes,                  
 members of the legislature and members of the Administration.  This           
 commission should do a study to come up with a possible solution to           
 the troubles.  This is not an overnight situation, and Mr. Gibbons            
 hopes this suggestion will be given full consideration during                 
 subcommittee deliberations on HB 246.                                         
 Number 1650                                                                   
 MR. GIBBONS said he has watched the legislature since the spring of           
 1942.  He made a general admonition to Representative Davis in                
 writing legislation.  He said the first words of the bill would               
 "terrify God."  He did not like the way the legislation was                   
 written.  However, he conceded that the pioneers' home problem is             
 not going away.  In the city of Anchorage alone, there are over               
 20,000 seniors eligible for admittance into the pioneers' home.               
 This statistic alone should make HESS Committee members realize               
 that there is a large problem out there that needs to be solved.              
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE said the state is now over $700 million "in the                
 hole."  There are a lot of problems out there that need to be                 
 solved.  While he agrees with Co-Chair Toohey that no one is going            
 to be thrown into the street, it would be less than honest to                 
 encourage people to think that more pioneers' homes can be built              
 when the state is facing a $700 million deficit.                              
 Number 1739                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE NORMAN ROKEBERG let Mr. Gibbons know that he shares            
 the concerns of pioneers' homes residents.  Representative Rokeberg           
 does not agree with Co-Chair Toohey's analysis.  He assured those             
 in the Anchorage Pioneers' Home that he is sitting on the HESS                
 Committee trying to look after their interests.                               
 Number 1751                                                                   
 EMELY DuBEAU testified via teleconference that she has been a                 
 resident of the Anchorage Pioneers' Home for over 12 years.  She              
 asked what the state will do with the money it receives from the              
 sale of the homes.                                                            
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS assumed the money would roll into the general            
 fund, and help the state recoup some of the deficit spending.                 
 MS. DuBEAU asked if that included raising the per diem of the                 
 legislators every year and raising their own salaries.                        
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS said he could not speak for anyone else but              
 himself on that matter, but it would not be his intention to do               
 Number 1779                                                                   
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE stated the salary of legislators has not been raised           
 in many years, and the per diem has been raised once that he is               
 aware of.  He respectfully asked Ms. DuBeau to not treat the                  
 legislators like they were the enemy.  Legislators do not have a              
 $50,000 per year subsidy.                                                     
 MS. DuBEAU asked what assurance will be given to the residents                
 regarding their future.  All that has been mentioned in this bill             
 is the nursing and assisted living.  She asked what would be done             
 concerning the residential occupants.                                         
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS answered the legislature provides the funding.           
 The organization and daily operation of the facilities is                     
 determined by the departments and the Administration.  At this                
 point, this is the only bill addressing the pioneers' homes from a            
 legislative standpoint.  It is Representative Davis's intent for              
 the current residents to continue with the contract which states              
 they will be provided with the pioneers' home service.                        
 Number 1871                                                                   
 GERALD BOHMS testified via teleconference that he has been a                  
 resident of Fairbanks for about 47 years.  He opposed HB 246, as he           
 felt it was an ill-advised piece of legislation.  The legislators             
 always talk about the state's deficit, and it seems like this would           
 be a prudent time to reinstate the state income tax, or create an             
 additional tax to supplement the oil income.  That would go a long            
 way toward solving the financial problems of the state.  In                   
 addition, it would give people a larger stake in what the                     
 legislature is doing with their tax money.                                    
 Number 1921                                                                   
 MR. BOHMS said the income tax, when it was in place, did not cause            
 anyone a great hardship.  Those in the lower income brackets would            
 be affected minimally if at all.  A tax would allow the state to              
 support the programs that the state currently has, including the              
 pioneers' homes.                                                              
 MR. BOHMS reiterated that the sale of the homes would be a real               
 detriment to the state.  The old-timers and pioneers who have spent           
 their lives in Alaska deserve a brighter future than selling the              
 homes would bring.  The costs would be raised, so people couldn't             
 afford to live there.  In the past, the state has looked into                 
 qualifying for Medicaid for the pioneers' homes.  That in itself              
 would destroy the homes.  Therefore, that is not an option either.            
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS appreciated the testimony of Mr. Bohms, which            
 contained concerns and possible solutions.                                    
 Number 2003                                                                   
 LEE CARMAN, President, Fairbanks AARP, said he has lived in Alaska            
 for many, many years.  He cannot understand why the legislators               
 cannot create another state income tax.  The tax would never be               
 large enough to hurt anyone, and it would help guarantee that the             
 shortages the state is currently experiencing will abate.  He said            
 the people of Alaska would not have to pay too much, perhaps just             
 a little sales tax or an income tax.                                          
 MR. CARMAN cannot understand why there is no work on bringing money           
 into the general fund except what can be taken from the oil                   
 companies.  There are many people in Alaska that live out of the              
 Alaska general fund, and never pay a nickel.  Mr. Carman draws                
 pension.  He is over 80-years-old, and he would be willing to share           
 a part of his retirement to help correct the funding shortage of              
 the state.                                                                    
 Number 2098                                                                   
 MR. CARMAN asked how long it would be before the new buyer of the             
 pioneers' homes abandoned those homes.  Mr. Carman does not think             
 it would take over a year, because the new buyer would not have the           
 expertise to take care of them.  The new buyer would start cutting            
 corners, and consequently the homes would be gone.  It was decided            
 by the courts that a person only needs one year of Alaska residency           
 to get into the pioneers' homes.  If those new residents are                  
 allowed to go into the homes, they would be a bigger burden on the            
 finances of the homes than those who are currently residents.                 
 MR. CARMAN feared that in order to correct the shortfalls of the              
 system, the permanent fund and perhaps the longevity bonus will be            
 taken away from many people in Alaska.                                        
 Number 2155                                                                   
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE appreciated Mr. Carman's willingness to be part of             
 the solution.  Co-Chair Bunde said he could only speak for himself,           
 but he has no fear of taxes.  However, Co-Chair Bunde is a                    
 representative.  When the majority of people in the state feel they           
 want to pay taxes to support the pioneers' homes or any other                 
 program, then Alaska residents will pay taxes.  However, taxes will           
 not be paid until the majority of people want to pay them.                    
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE stated if taxes were paid at the previous rate, it             
 would generate about $250 million.  That would still leave the                
 state with a $500 million deficit.  There would still be no extra             
 money to go into the pioneers' homes or anything else.  Taxes at              
 the previous level are not the only solution.  It may be one of the           
 solutions, but Co-Chair Bunde personally feels the solution will be           
 made of taxes, the permanent fund and a cut of state services.                
 Number 2197                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS recalled Mr. Carman's question about private             
 contractors, the future of the homes, and how long the contractors            
 will be preset before the homes are used for something else.  Those           
 concerns need to be addressed in the legislation, as well as any              
 contractual arrangements that may be acceptable to the legislature            
 and to the state.  Representative Davis thanked Mr. Carman for                
 bringing up that point.                                                       
 Number 2218                                                                   
 ART NIELSEN testified via teleconference that he has been a                   
 resident of the Sitka Pioneers' Home for over one year.  He asked             
 why his corporation could not buy the homes if a suitable buyer               
 could not be found.                                                           
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS said that could be a possibility.  Any                   
 proposals would have to be acceptable to the state.                           
 MR. NIELSEN stated that he belongs to two corporations, so any one            
 would be suitable.                                                            
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS asked Mr. Nielsen how long he was on the                 
 waiting list to get into the home.                                            
 MR. NIELSEN said he got admitted under a doctor's care, so he did             
 not have to wait very long.                                                   
 Number 2263                                                                   
 ALTHEA BUCKINGHAM, President, Residents' Council, Sitka Pioneers'             
 Home; and Community Coordinator, AARP; testified via teleconference           
 that she is speaking on behalf of both those organizations.  She is           
 encouraged that HESS Committee members have the written testimony             
 of Mr. DeArmond.  She sent a letter and she was under the                     
 impression that her testimony was thrown into a pile.  She was                
 interested in knowing how many letters have been received in favor            
 of the bill, and how many have opposed the bill.                              
 MS. BUCKINGHAM was therefore encouraged to hear that the letters              
 are on file.  She was not able to testify at the first meeting on             
 HB 246, and she feels this bill should be completely withdrawn.  It           
 is not well-thought out, and it is poorly worded.                             
 MS. BUCKINGHAM suggested a task force study the issue and come up             
 with solutions.  Ms. Buckingham also said she does not know about             
 the hearings in Anchorage held by the Governor's Pioneers' Home               
 Task Force.  She said she would be interested in knowing the                  
 outcome of those hearings.                                                    
 TAPE 95-42, SIDE B                                                            
 Number 000                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS said there was a Governor's Pioneers' Home               
 Task Force, and he did not have a copy of the resulting report.               
 However, she can be provided with any number of other reports on              
 the homes.  In addition, Representative Davis noted that her                  
 written testimony was in the bill packets of the HESS Committee               
 ANNE JANZEN, resident, Sitka Pioneers' Home, was asked to read                
 Carol Klaney's testimony as Ms. Klaney is able to write, but she              
 cannot speak clearly.  Ms. Janzen read, "As a ten-year resident of            
 the Sitka Pioneers' Home, I strongly oppose the sale of the                   
 pioneers' home.  The pioneers' homes are the best health care                 
 facilities existing.  The pioneers' homes are staffed with caring,            
 well-qualified personnel.  The medical, dietary and CNA departments           
 take a personal interest in the welfare of the people they care               
 for--a concern that will be lost in a privately-owned facility.               
 "If the sale of the pioneers' homes becomes finalized, I am only              
 one of a number of pioneers' home residents who will be left                  
 homeless by being unable to meet the increased costs of a                     
 privately-owned care facility.  For the above reasons, I protest              
 the proposed sale of the pioneers' homes.  Thank you.  Cordially,             
 Carol Klaney."                                                                
 Number 160                                                                    
 JULIA OLSEN, resident, Sitka Pioneers' Home, testified via                    
 teleconference that she will be 71 years old next month.  She was             
 born and raised in Alaska.  She was admitted to the Sitka Pioneers'           
 Home on a doctor's advice.  If it was not for the home, she would             
 not be alive today.  Thanks to the care of the administrator of the           
 home, she is improving.   For people who have a low income level              
 such as her, things are getting pretty shaky.  They want someone to           
 tell them everything is going to be okay.  They want some                     
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS hoped that some assurance has been provided as           
 to his intent for the bill.  Residents of the homes should remain             
 comfortable at the homes as long as they wish.                                
 Number 299                                                                    
 MARGARET NEWELL, Resident, Anchorage Pioneers' Home, testified via            
 teleconference that she is against HB 246.  The author of the bill,           
 she decided, has done no research on this proposal.  It is very               
 cruel to upset people that are no longer able to care for                     
 themselves.  When she came into the pioneers' home, she had to                
 dispose of most of her earthly possessions.  Not much can be put              
 into a 168 square foot room and still have room to walk around.               
 MS. NEWELL said when she entered the home in 1987, she had to give            
 up a lot.  Now a legislator is trying to disrupt her life and the             
 lives of other residents financially and emotionally.  This is not            
 only cruel but it is extremely thoughtless.  She reminded                     
 Representative Davis of the Golden Rule, "Do unto others as you               
 would have them to unto you."  And she added that "What goes                  
 around, generally comes back around also."  She asked HESS                    
 Committee members to please kill the bill, and relieve the                    
 residents of the pioneers' home.                                              
 Number 394                                                                    
 MARCY BUTLER testified via teleconference that the sons and                   
 daughters of the pioneers' home residents wanted to see that their            
 parents would have appropriate medical help and facilities as they            
 aged and became ill.  As one of the daughters of the pioneers, Ms.            
 Butler told HESS Committee members that her mother came to Alaska             
 in 1936.  Her father came to Alaska in 1923.                                  
 MS. BUTLER strongly opposes HB 246 because it thwarts her intent as           
 a daughter of pioneers.  She would like to speak for her mother who           
 has had a stroke and cannot speak.  Ms. Butler said her parents               
 worked hard in Alaska and worked for statehood.  She did not want             
 the homes to be sold to companies that worked for profit.   Ms.               
 Butler mentioned the names of other pioneers who she knows.  She              
 said the legislature aims to "Kick the people into the streets that           
 built the streets, and paid for the streets."                                 
 MS. BUTLER continued that she has been a public school teacher in             
 Anchorage for 28 years.  Last fall, a young woman attended her                
 class for six days.  She had a child and was cared for by the state           
 by Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC).  That girl was             
 pregnant with another child, and she was assigned a visiting                  
 teacher--also paid for by the state.  That visiting teacher kept in           
 contact with Ms. Butler in order to get assignments.                          
 MS. BUTLER subsequently found out in January that the pregnant                
 young woman had not completed any of her work, and her second baby            
 was well on its way at that time.                                             
 MS. BUTLER said the pioneers paid more than their debt to society,            
 and they earned the right to be taken care of by the people they              
 took care of.                                                                 
 Number 609                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR TOOHEY said she has lived in Alaska since 1955, and she              
 never did a thing in Alaska that she thought she was going to be              
 repaid for when she got to be 65.  Getting to be 65 is the                    
 responsibility of Co-Chair Toohey.                                            
 MS. BUTLER replied that whether one expects to be helped by the               
 state or not is a private matter.  She only wanted to point out the           
 example of the student who has never and probably will never                  
 contribute in the way that the pioneers have contributed to the               
 state.  She reiterated that those pioneers have earned the right to           
 be taken care of by the people they took care of.                             
 Number 675                                                                    
 INEZ WELLS, Resident, Anchorage Pioneers' Home, said she came to              
 Alaska in 1966 with the military.  She worked for statehood, and              
 she has worked all of her life in Alaska.  Now that she is not able           
 to take care of herself, she has moved to the pioneers' home, which           
 she likes very much.  She is very disappointed that those who have            
 worked so hard might lose the homes.  She requested that the bill             
 be killed.                                                                    
 Number 769                                                                    
 ROBERLY WALDRON, former deputy commissioner, Department of                    
 Administration, testified via teleconference that the homes are               
 excellent providers of service.  While there are many reasons why             
 the ownership and management of the homes must remain with the                
 state, she said she would talk about only a few.  First, the homes            
 primarily admit those who cannot receive care at other facilities.            
 The private sector takes care of persons with high and low income             
 MS. WALDRON said therefore, if a person has adequate resources to             
 pay for care, or qualifies for Medicaid, a private facility will              
 admit that person.  Where does one go if he/she does not meet                 
 either of these tests?  While the homes may have a few clients who            
 could be in private facilities, the vast majority could not.  A               
 private facility does not want and cannot afford to admit those who           
 cannot pay for care from some source.  Several times, the private             
 facility administrator in Representative Davis's district has                 
 criticized the homes and has asked the state to put the residents             
 in private facilities and pay for their care.                                 
 MS. WALDRON said that is the same facility that over-bills because            
 the development involves political forces and increases the bed               
 number and certificate of need number from Health and Social                  
 Services.  She asked why the state would want to give away cost               
 control if the state is going to be liable for the care of those              
 Number 862                                                                    
 MS. WALDRON said secondly, to qualify for Medicaid, a person must             
 have a diagnosis that relates to physical ailments, to the                    
 exclusion of mental needs.  Therefore, a person suffering from                
 dementia does not qualify for Medicaid.  Even if that person met              
 the financial criteria, but had the diagnosis of Alzheimer's                  
 disease which requires 24-hour attendance, the person would not               
 qualify for Medicaid.  Most of the persons in the pioneers' homes             
 in the nursing care facility and in assisted living have a                    
 diagnosis that includes dementia.                                             
 MS. WALDRON explained that those who have a dual physical and                 
 mental illness and qualify financially are in private facilities              
 already.  They enter the facility due to the long waiting list at             
 the pioneers' homes and they can receive services in the private              
 Number 918                                                                    
 MS. WALDRON continued with her third point.  The state owns                   
 hundreds of millions of dollars in property, buildings, and other             
 assets.  Yet the state budget gives not one dime for maintenance in           
 Fiscal Year (FY) 1995.  In the budget request for FY 96, the homes            
 asked for a barely sufficient capital budget to provide basic                 
 maintenance for the building, with no requests for major work to be           
 done.  One of the buildings is 61 years old, and almost any                   
 breakdown is major and expensive.  The amount of the request for FY           
 96 is $326,000.  Divide that by six, and each home will only                  
 receive $64,000.  That is not enough.                                         
 MS. WALDRON asserted as a consequence of year after year of                   
 inadequate capital funds, the buildings all need major work.  A               
 survey completed three years ago showed the buildings need about              
 $98 million in work.  That means that before a new owner can                  
 convert the facilities to Medicare/Medicaid facilities, they would            
 have to spend that much, or more, in renovation and maintenance.              
 After the state has received their market value for the property,             
 who could afford the homes?                                                   
 MS. WALDRON added that the state is in the process of phasing out             
 services at the Harborview facility in Valdez.  It should be noted            
 that it currently has the Sourdough Unit, which houses older                  
 Alaskans with dementia.  There are other reasons why the state                
 should not sell the pioneers' homes, and Ms. Waldron said she was             
 sure HESS Committee members were going to hear many of those                  
 reasons from others.                                                          
 MS. WALDRON spoke about contracting.  She said the homes currently            
 do contract for food services, and two of the homes include either            
 laundry or housekeeping.  This saves money, and there may be other            
 services that may be contracted.  Those options should be reviewed            
 often.  The overall management of the homes should not be                     
 contracted.  A survey completed about a year ago shows that top               
 management in the pioneers' homes are the lowest paid of all long-            
 term care administrators.                                                     
 MS. WALDRON said the homes have professional and good                         
 administrators.  She asked why the state would want to increase the           
 cost and lose the advantage of the experienced administrators.                
 Since they are required to be licensed as well, unless a contractor           
 would retain the present administrators, it is most likely that               
 persons outside of Alaska would be hired.  There simply is not that           
 many licensed administrators who are available for work.  Many are            
 already employed, and others, like Ms. Waldron, are retired.                  
 Number 1063                                                                   
 MS. WALDRON said even though she strongly disagrees with selling or           
 contracting management of the homes, she believes there are many              
 things the state can do to make the homes more viable.  She said,             
 "The current residents of the homes don't like to hear this, but              
 everything must be done to help keep the homes viable so the state            
 can continue to own and operate them."  This would include                    
 continuing to increase the rates paid by the residents.                       
 MS. WALDRON conceded that there has been an increase for the last             
 three years, but the rates are still extremely low.  The rate paid            
 for those in assisted living and residential care would not pay for           
 one month's rent, utilities, groceries, gas and incidentals if that           
 person lived in their own apartment.                                          
 Number 1107                                                                   
 MS. WALDRON felt many resident can pay more, while it is recognized           
 that some cannot.  All residents in the homes are currently being             
 subsidized, and it should add to the dignity of those residents to            
 pay more, rather than less, when funds are available.                         
 MS. WALDRON asked that residents not resist reasonable rate                   
 increases for the benefit of the homes, so people don't have to               
 defend why the homes should continue to exist.  Secondly, Ms.                 
 Waldron asked that the employees become more patient with the                 
 offerings of the homes.  Assisted living is not only better for the           
 residents, it is less costly to them and the state.  It is an                 
 advantage to the employees as well.                                           
 MS. WALDRON said employees should visit other facilities or talk to           
 those who have gone to work for other facilities.  Ms. Waldron                
 guaranteed that legislators will see that the homes give the most             
 excellent care at the appropriate levels, and that the homes are              
 adequately staffed.                                                           
 Number 1169                                                                   
 MS. WALDRON requested that the Administration continue, as it has             
 done in the past, to make changes that are necessary, to look for             
 efficiencies, and to serve clients with the love and compassion               
 they deserve.  If those three requested things happen, this issue             
 of selling the homes would not be brought up again for a long, long           
 MS. WALDRON concluded by asking the legislators to look to the                
 Governor's Advisory Board on Pioneers' Homes and to the Alaska                
 Commission on Aging for guidance on issues relating to pioneers'              
 homes.  She knows legislators will find that those entities are               
 reasonable and willing to contribute.  While those organizations              
 are supportive of the homes, they are also supportive of home and             
 community-based services.                                                     
 MS. WALDRON stated the commission has been charged by the                     
 legislature to address the mental health needs of the aging                   
 population.  This group should be allowed to plan their services as           
 charged by the legislature.  There is already two committees in               
 place:  The Governor's Advisory Board for Pioneers' Homes, and the            
 Alaska Commission on Aging.                                                   
 MS. WALDRON said she would provide her written testimony to HESS              
 Committee members, along with a history on pioneers' homes.                   
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS thanked Ms. Waldron, and stated he was certain           
 she will be a valuable asset when considering what to do with the             
 Number 1239                                                                   
 CO-CHAIR TOOHEY asked if the year-long task force that was set up             
 by the Governor last year has completed/distributed a report.                 
 MS. WALDRON said the person who may be contacted for a copy of that           
 report is with the Attorney General's Office.  She also commented             
 that earlier, there was talk about continuing to take care of the             
 current residents.  She has been the one who, over the last three             
 years, has had to approach current residents and tell them that               
 their rates are being raised again.  She knows how that disturbs              
 the residents, but she also knows that it is necessary for many               
 MS. WALDRON recalled that at one time, there was talk about raising           
 the rates quite a bit.  Ms. Waldron went to the Attorney General's            
 office and asked if there was any way current residents could be              
 protected, and have incoming or new residents treated differently.            
 That would include "grandfathering" people in at lesser rates, and            
 have new residents pay higher rates.  She was told that could not             
 happen, and that Medicaid would not allow that to happen.  Equal              
 services must be offered for equal pay.                                       
 MS. WALDRON explained the only time individuals could utilize the             
 grandfather clause is if a program is being phased out, such as the           
 longevity bonus.  However, pioneers' homes are not being phased out           
 in the same way.  Therefore, at that time she was told there is no            
 way to protect those currently in the homes.                                  
 Number 1350                                                                   
 EUGENE SMITH testified via teleconference that he has been a                  
 resident of Anchorage since 1932.  His wife was born in Anchorage             
 and they have many children and grandchildren.  He and his wife are           
 not residents of the pioneers' home, but they have sent an                    
 application in for residency for close to two years.  Mr. Smith is            
 now rather disappointed in the bill.                                          
 MR. SMITH is now wondering about the future of the current                    
 residents, and he is also wondering about those who are on the                
 waiting lists.  He asked if it was worthwhile for he and his wife             
 to continue to pursue residency in the pioneers' homes.  They have            
 figured they can afford the $1,800 per month that it would cost               
 them to be in the pioneers' home together.  But now he wonders                
 whether they will be able to afford it.                                       
 MR. SMITH said if the state decides to sell the homes, there is no            
 one in the world that can run the homes as the state has done in              
 the past.  Profit motive alone would drive people out if they could           
 not come up with the money.  Mr. Smith said he was only expressing            
 his own dissatisfaction with the bill, and also he wonders about              
 his and his wife's future.                                                    
 Number 1472                                                                   
 CO-CHAIR TOOHEY asked if Mr. Smith has looked into moving into a              
 small unit and getting someone to care for them should they become            
 incapacitated.  She asked if that would not be cheaper and more               
 fun.  As time goes on, Co-Chair Toohey suspects that the pioneers'            
 homes will become more of assisted living facilities, or longer-              
 term care homes for people who are incapable of caring for                    
 themselves.  She asked if Mr. Smith and his wife had looked into              
 the Chugach center or senior citizen housing other than the                   
 pioneers' homes.                                                              
 MR. SMITH answered that they had not.                                         
 Number 1526                                                                   
 CO-CHAIR TOOHEY asked Representative Rokeberg if his mother was in            
 the pioneers' home, and he answered that she was.  She asked if she           
 had two homes, her own home and the pioneers' home residence.                 
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG answered that she had sold her house.                 
 CO-CHAIR TOOHEY said the issue of people having their own homes and           
 living at the pioneers' homes during the week needs to be                     
 KATHY DIETRICH, Business Agent, Alaska State Employees Association,           
 said privatization seldom achieves the benefits sought.  She said             
 she is employed at the pioneers' home and enjoys her job, as does             
 her co-workers.  She said one does not work in the pioneers' homes            
 unless one really cares about serving the pioneers.  For a private            
 entity to make a profit, the owner will either have to cut services           
 or reduce wages and benefits of the hard-working Alaskans who right           
 now are working at the homes.  Those workers want to continue                 
 serving the residents.                                                        
 MS. DIETRICH said any owner would most likely come from the Lower             
 48, and they would send the profits outside if a profit was made.             
 If legislators asked administrators, they would be told there is              
 very little room for profits in running the pioneers' homes.                  
 MS. DIETRICH continued that privatization also removes an important           
 level of scrutiny for the state of Alaska by placing the employees            
 serving the residents under the review of profit-motivated                    
 employers instead of a responsible administrator who is mindful of            
 the budget and providing quality services.  Pioneers' home                    
 employees are very afraid they would see cuts to the services.                
 MS. DIETRICH said if legislators were to visit the Fairbanks                  
 Pioneers' Home, they would immediately see how warm and friendly it           
 is.  Some of those amenities would probably fall by the wayside               
 when a profit was being attempted.                                            
 MS. DIETRICH asked to address the earlier comment that the majority           
 of Alaskans do not support an income tax.  Ms. Dietrich was unsure            
 that it was known what the majority would support as far as an                
 income tax.  However, she does feel that, as leaders, it is the               
 responsibility of legislators to educate the public as to the need            
 for taxes, and what Alaskans are giving up if they continue to go             
 without an income tax.                                                        
 MS. DIETRICH said the working people she knows would be more than             
 happy to do their fair share to continue state services.                      
 Number 1676                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS closed the hearing to public testimony.  He              
 asked for comments from the committee.                                        
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE noted the frustration and concerns of the seniors              
 who are currently residents of the pioneers' homes, and those who             
 would like to be residents.  However, those people may not get in             
 because of the long waiting lists, and the constraints the state              
 had to operate under when the court said that anyone who has been             
 an Alaska resident for a year is now eligible for pioneers' home              
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE wished the courts had made a different decision.  He           
 also spoke regarding the tax issue.  He said the vast majority of             
 people in his particular district are not willing to pay taxes to             
 subsidize a lot of state services, including the pioneers' homes.             
 Until and unless they are willing to do that, the subsidy will not            
 be seen.  Perhaps, rather than privatizing the homes, a nonprofit             
 entity could be established so the homes operated in a break-even             
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE said in order to reduce the impact on other state              
 services, the residency of the pioneers' homes would have to be on            
 a needs basis, and the contribution would have to be a sliding                
 scale depending on circumstances.  If a person was wealthy and                
 wanted to live in a pioneers' home, that person would have to pay             
 Number 1780                                                                   
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE continued that what to do with the pioneers' homes             
 is just one of the many problems facing the legislature this year.            
 This is a difficult issue, and Co-Chair Bunde thanked those who               
 provided alternative solutions to help meet the challenges.                   
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE reassumed the gavel, and appointed a subcommittee to           
 study this issue.  He appointed Representative Davis as chair of              
 the subcommittee, and Representative Rokeberg and Representative              
 Robinson were asked to be members.  Any other members of the                  
 legislature with an interest were invited to be involved.                     
 Number 1828                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG told the residents of the pioneers' homes             
 that there are a number of legislators on the HESS Committee and              
 throughout the entire legislature who are very sensitive to the               
 needs of the pioneers' homes.  In addition, Representative Rokeberg           
 wanted to note for the record that his mother is a member of the              
 Anchorage Pioneers' Home, he is a long-time member of the Pioneers            
 of Alaska Igloo Number 15, and he is a member of the AARP.                    
 Therefore, people are represented in Juneau.                                  
 Number 1869                                                                   
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE adjourned the meeting at 9:58 a.m.                             

Document Name Date/Time Subjects