County Nursing Homes an “Endangered Species” in N.J. and Elsewhere

The concept of a county-run nursing home may eventually cease to exist in New Jersey, considering four such facilities which were privatized in the last 18 months, and more are expected to follow, writes the Philadelphia Inquirer

With local government budgets shrinking, county-run nursing homes — the government’s traditional means of caring for seniors who lack money for a private facility — are steadily being privatized. New Jersey is joining a national trend: Government nursing homes are mostly a bygone institution elsewhere and represent less then 6 percent of nursing homes in the country, said Don Redfoot, an analyst with AARP. Outside the Northeast and Midwest, county homes are virtually nonexistent. In Pennsylvania, five county homes have been sold since 2010, with 32 remaining.

“Gradually, the states and localities have been getting out of the business. It’s largely a budgetary issue, but there’s also a move away from institutionalization toward providing more community-based services, like in-home care or assisted-living homes,” Redfoot said. “Now, people have an alternative way.”


The main cause, industry experts say, is decreasing Medicaid subsidies, which besides providing health care for the poor also support long-term nursing care for seniors who have exhausted their financial resources.

In New Jersey’s case, Gov. Chris Christie (R) cut the state’s Medicaid contribution for long-term care by $75 million, and county nursing homes often feel the effect of cuts worse than privately-owned facilities. 

“The vast majority of [county nursing home] patients are on Medicaid, and unlike the private operators, they don’t have the ability to target the cases that are better payers,” the Philadelphia Inquirer article quotes Paul Langevin, president of the Health Care Association of New Jersey, as saying. 


Privatizing facilities was called a “reasonable option” by the New Jersey Department of Health spokeswoman, who said doing so could be in the community’s best interests. 

Read the full story here

Written by Alyssa Gerace