Bill would allow elderly Alaskans to receive home-based care through foster program


Shane Ersland


Members of Alaska’s House Health & Social Services Committee discussed an amended bill that would establish a foster care system for elderly Alaskans and adults with disabilities Tuesday. 


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Committee members discussed the amended Senate Bill 98 at the request of Gov. Mike Dunleavy. SB 98 would give Alaskans who are enrolled in Medicaid home and community-based waiver services to access a new adult home care service offered by the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS).

Seniors would be able to live at home and receive personal care services. DHSS would streamline a process for foster parents who have cared for children with disabilities to transfer their existing license to a new adult home care license. 

DHSS Division of Senior and Disabilities Services Director John Lee said during his testimony to the committee that the bill would strengthen home and community based services.

“The bill provides an option to enable many individuals, especially seniors, to remain in their local communities rather than travel to large urban settings where assisted living homes and nursing homes are more readily available,” Lee said. “This would be a valued option in rural areas and in small villages, creating a small economic boon to these communities.”

Foster parents would not be required to acquire an assisted living home licensure, Lee said.

“The setting would be open to providers to provide care in a home-like setting,” he said.

Deputy Director of the DHSS Division of Senior and Disabilities Services Tony Newman said the bill allows for the adoption of an adult by a member of a married couple, as long as that individual’s spouse consents to the adoption.

“One thing that separates this setting and service from an assisted living home is that services currently offered in assisted living homes are habilitative in nature,” Newman said. “That is a concern we hear frequently from our stakeholders, is, ‘Why do we always have to be habilitating people?’ There’s some people at the end of their lives; they’re not seeking habilitation.”