clinician examining patient at home

With the signing of new legislation to increase home care access, Alaska is making good on its promise to expand services for aging adults and people receiving care in the home.

On July 29, the governor signed SB 57 into law. The legislation establishes a new care setting for individuals wishing to receive Medicaid services in their homes. “Adult home care,” as the legislation calls it, is expected to affect 2,500 older adults’ access to medical and personal care in the state. 

“I am honored to sign this important piece of legislation today because stability is one of the most important things people need,” said Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R). “Meeting the needs of older Alaskans in their community is critical to supporting healthy aging and community sustainability.”

The new setting is also relatively inexpensive. Adult home care is expected to cost payers $408 per day, which is slightly more expensive than traditional home care in Alaska but far cheaper than nursing home and assisted living services.

“This bill will help address the shortage of services and settings for seniors and other individuals who require help with the activities of daily living and other assistance to live more independently,” according to a summary of the law. “SB 57 creates an option that may enable some people to remain in a community setting when they might otherwise need to leave their communities and move into an institution, such as a nursing home.”

Its sister bill in the House, HB 58, was introduced in tandem with a string of bills as part of Alaska’s Healthy Families Initiative, according to a release. HB 59 and HB 60 were also part of the governor’s plan to improve health equity and access. Both have been referred to committees and are gradually making their way through the legislative process.

“My vision is for Alaska to be the best place in the country for families,” Dunleavy said. “These bills aren’t conceptual. They will tangibly improve quality of life for thousands of Alaskans and help make sure that bureaucratic barriers don’t get in the way of Alaskan families.”