The Juneau Pioneer Home is seen in this undated photo. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)

The Juneau Pioneer Home is seen in this undated photo. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)

Opinion: Seniors find fault with DHSS split proposal

There are better answers.

  • Tuesday, January 11, 2022 11:33pm
  • Opinion

By Peter Zuyus

Gov. Mike Dunleavy recently announced, at the request of Department of Health and Social Services, that he will use an executive order to split DHSS into multiple departments. Commissioner Adam Crum has stated that the proposed split is at the recommendation of five executives and would be a benefit to Alaskans. However, the expansion of a bureaucracy rarely does little, except to increase cost and reduce services as an expense of the expansion.

The proposed split of DHSS itself has a major flaw in conception alone. The separation of the Alaska Pioneer Homes from other senior programs will cause disarray and pit seniors against seniors for competition of budget funding. The community of interest between seniors of pioneers’ homes and seniors in general is a fundamental bond that should not be broken. There are better answers.

More effective management is the true answer for DHSS and Alaska’s senior population, not the expansion and creation of additional bureaucracy. The proposed split will incur significant expense. It is a dark cloud over DHSS when it proposes increasing division overhead expenditures, while it has cut some senior benefit programs by up to 50%.

Seniors of Alaska, on behalf of seniors statewide, asks that you review this change and carefully consider the impact on Alaska’s senior population of a potentially unnecessary and costly disruption of the services provided by DHSS.

We trust the voices of Alaska Seniors and our elected legislators prevail and DHSS will focus on better provisioning of services versus gratuitous and costly expansion.

Peter Zuyus is executive director for Seniors of Alaska.

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