Skilled Nursing Occupancy Continued to Decline in Q4 2017, Says NIC

by Jeff Shaw

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Despite a severe flu season that should’ve put more patients into skilled nursing facilities, occupancy in the sector continued its years-long decline in fourth-quarter 2017, according to the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing and Care (NIC).

NIC is an Annapolis-based nonprofit organization that tracks data in the seniors housing sector. The information is based on a sample population captured each month from 1,447 skilled nursing properties across 48 states.

The fourth-quarter data shows seniors housing occupancy hitting 81.9 percent in fourth-quarter 2017, down 66 basis points from the previous quarter and 159 basis points year-over-year.

“Occupancy at skilled nursing properties was down despite a relatively early and severe flu season, which usually causes an increase in occupancy in a typical fourth quarter,” says Bill Kauffman, senior principal at NIC. “In addition, occupancy declined more significantly in rural areas than urban areas over the past year.”

The report also revealed that revenue from Medicaid now represents just under half of all revenue at skilled nursing properties (49.3 percent), which is up 70 basis points from the prior year. Meanwhile, revenue from Medicare, which pays the most for skilled nursing, fell to 22.8 percent, down 98 basis points from the prior year.

This is the first quarterly report where NIC has separately broken out urban and rural areas for separate analysis.

“A combination of factors, including demographics, competition from home healthcare and telehealth, and reforms to the healthcare system may translate into different impacts on occupancy trends in rural and urban settings,” says Beth Burnham Mace, chief economist for NIC.

To view the report, click here.

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