One of Palin’s campaign promises was restoring the Longevity Bonus program that paid up to $250 a month to Alaska’s Sourdough seniors. While Gov. Frank Murkowski took heat for ending that program early, he also added a new system that paid low-income seniors $120 a month.
But that $120-a-month “Senior Care” payment is set to dry up this summer unless the state steps in.
So what happens to seniors who get the low-income monthly payment now, but hadn’t lived in Alaska long enough to get the Longevity Bonus?
“They’re not going to get lopped off, because those recipients … they are the ones in need,” Palin said today.
Anchorage Rep. Bob Lynn has a bill that would pave the way for restoring the Longevity Bonus, and Palin said she planned to talk to him later today. She said the result could be the state adopting a kind of hybrid program that brings back the bonus but folds in the low-income payments in some way.
Murkowski spokesman John Manly said this week that resurrecting the Longevity Bonus could lead to lawsuits. “We’re pretty well convinced that the court would say well, you’ve got to open it up to everybody,” he said.
The Senior Care payments cost the state more than $10 million a year, while bringing back the Longevity Bonus could cost an estimated $32 million, said Janet Clarke, an assistant commissioner for the state health department.
A note on the new blog, by the way: Welcome to anyone who read our campaign blog, The Trail. While that site focused only on the governor’s race, this time we can talk about anything related to Alaska politics.