Occupancy Rates Hit Four-Year High - SpecialtyRx
June 18, 2019
Occupancy Rates Hit Four-Year High

Aster years of decline, NIC announces SNF occupancy increase

For the past five years, nursing homes have struggled tokeep beds filled. As patients opt for home care and otheralternatives, traditional facilities have had to deal with lowreimbursement rates and high personnel costs, amongother challenges.

Now, the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing &Care reports that U.S. skilled nursing facilities finally saw apositive year-over-year surge. In Q1 of 2019, occupancy ratesrose to 83.7%, representing a 28-point increase comparedto the previous year. The percentage also amounts to aparticularly strong 77-point upturn since 4Q18.

Although instances of influenza tend to skew wintertimedata, experts say the healthy growth goes beyond seasonalfactors.

“Occupancy was also up between March of 2018 and 2019,suggesting supply and demand are becoming more closelyaligned,” says Bill Kauffman, senior principal at NIC.

SNF con(census): still an uphill battle

Despite the optimistic numbers uptick, operators remainweary when it comes to maintaining a healthy patient mix.As increasingly more patients have managed Medicareplans (like Medicare Advantage), facilities face revenue loss.Not to mention, low Medicaid reimbursements continue tothreaten short-and long-term profitability.

Here’s a look at nationwide reimbursement stats for the firstquarter of 2019.

Aster years of decline, NIC announces SNF occupancy increase


So, while increased occupancy rates signal newfound confidence across the country, owners must contend with ongoing financial pressures. Kauffman adds, “We will continue to monitor reimbursement, labor costs and other data to see if any of these factors might be contributing to facility closures, especially in rural areas.”

For now, skilled nursing providers should persist in their battle to keep beds filled while delivering the highest standard of care.

For more detailed information on key occupancy and revenue, explore the complete skilled nursing 1Q19 data report.