NIC: Skilled Nursing Occupancy Falls to New Low

Despite a “significant” flu season that could have boosted patient volume, skilled nursing occupancy suffered across the country late last year.

In fact, skilled nursing occupancy nationwide fell to 81.8% in the fourth quarter of 2016, according to the latest Skilled Nursing Data Report from the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC). That’s down 0.8% from the third quarter of 2016 and the lowest level skilled nursing occupancy has reached since NIC started collecting the data in late 2011.

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Skilled nursing occupancy has really begun to trend down over the past couple of years, according to NIC Senior Principal Bill Kauffman.

“Most of the occupancy challenges are due to the fact that over the past couple of years, there has been a strong move toward value-based payments,” Kauffman told Senior Housing News. “When you’re implementing value-based payments and inclusive of more managed care, there’s going to be pressure on length of stay, and potentially more patients that are bypassing into other settings, like home.”

Medicaid is still the main source of skilled nursing patient volume, NIC’s report revealed. Medicaid patient days jumped 1.3% from 64.9% of patient days in the fourth quarter of 2015 to 66.2% of patient days in the fourth quarter of 2016.

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“Medicaid patient days are becoming, more and more, an important part of the business,” Kauffman said. “Out of all the patient days in the skilled nursing facilities, you’re now now seeing that mix being more weighted toward Medicaid.”

Revenue per patient day from Medicaid reached more than $200 per patient day, a 0.9% increase quarter-over-quarter and a 1.8% increase year-over-year.

Medicare mix, meanwhile, fell to its lowest point over the past five years in the fourth quarter of 2016, finishing the year at 12.9%. Year-over-year Medicare mix fell 0.9%.

NIC’s latest report, released Wednesday, is based on data from just under 1,500 skilled nursing properties in 47 states, from January 2012 through December 2016.

These numbers are just the latest confirmation of the headwinds that have been hitting the sector and reported by various providers, including Genesis HealthCare (NYSE: GEN).

Written by Mary Kate Nelson

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