How the Seasons Influence Who is in Skilled Nursing Beds

April brings budding trees and the start of baseball season, but does it also bring a change in the mix of skilled nursing facility residents?

It’s possible, if The National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC) is to be believed. 

The organization on Wednesday provided a more detailed analysis of the data in its first-ever Skilled Nursing Data Report, which was released in March. The report presents monthly data on approximately 1,500 skilled nursing properties gathered by NIC from October 2011 to December 2015.

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The data in the report prove there is a seasonal influence on quality and skilled patient mix, according to NIC. Skilled and quality mix usually spike in February and March every year, implying some seasonality, the organization said.

In February 2015, skilled mix rose to 27.5%, jumping from 25.8% in December 2014—possibly caused by the flu season, the data show. This year, the flu season has not been as prevalent, so that spike may not occur, NIC said. 

Quality mix, which includes all payer sources except Medicaid, experienced some volatility but ultimately remained at about 34.5% from October 2011 to December 2015, the data show. Skilled mix, which represents primarily Medicare and managed care residents, rose by 1.6% over that same time period and in December 2015 was 25%. 

NIC’s new analysis of the data also offers information about Medicare and Medicaid rates. Medicare rates stayed basically flat from October 2011 to December 2015, with the rate decreasing from $500.74 to $496.98 per day during the time period. Rates also dropped 0.6% from $500.17 per day in December 2014 to $496.98 in December 2015.

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Meanwhile, Medicaid rates from October 2011 through December 2015 rose 5.5% over the entire period, amounting to a compound annual growth rate of 1.3%. The rate increased from $187.75 per day in October 2011 to $198.02 in December 2015. The growth in rates decelerated over the past year, with the growth rate at only 0.2% from 2014 to 2015. The rate increased slightly from $197.60 per day in December 2014 to $198.02 in December 2015.

A future update to the Skilled Nursing Data Report may shed additional light on the seasonal influence on quality and skilled patient mix, NIC said.

Written by Mary Kate Nelson

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