Skilled Nursing Occupancy Declines After Seven-Month Rise

December 5, 2021, Amy Stulick, Skilled Nursing News - After a seven-month streak in occupancy gains, skilled nursing facilities experienced a decline from August to September.  Despite decreasing 27 basis points to 75% in September, overall occupancy is still 355 basis points above its low point in January at 71.5%, according to NIC MAP data, released by NIC MAP Vision.

“There remains cautious optimism about improving occupancy trends but there remain challenges including the rapid spread of the contagious COVID-19 delta variant in the summer and fall months as well as labor shortages, which have caused some properties to limit new patient admissions,” NIC MAP Vision authors noted. 

Added challenges to occupancy involve lack of booster prioritization in nursing homes, the fall/winter season and expected spread of the omicron variant, which was spotted in the U.S. on Wednesday, reports said.

Occupancy is still low compared to pre-pandemic levels — February 2020 occupancy was 85.7%.

Source: NIC MAP® Data, powered by NIC MAP Vision

Medicare revenue per patient day (RPPD) increased by $2.82 between August and September, ending the month at $565, while Medicare revenue mix continued to decline for the same time period, down 33 basis points to end September at 19.9%. 

“It has been falling since January 2021 when it was 24.9%, the time of peak COVID-19 cases,” NIC MAP data authors said of Medicare revenue mix.

Managed Medicare revenue mix held steady from August to September at 10.5%.  The statistic was down from its recent high in February of 11.2% due to growth in elective surgeries that had originally been scheduled for the prior year, according to the report.

RPPD for managed Medicare increased from $447 in August to $449 in September, but is still putting strain on operator revenue, down 3.2% from September 2020 and 18.8% from January 2012.

Medicaid RPPD decreased $1 from August to September, settling at $242 for the month. NIC MAP Vision authors said this statistic is still a 3.3% increase from pre-pandemic levels in February 2020; the increase is due to states embracing measures to increase reimbursement related to the number of COVID cases.

Medicaid patient day mix increased to 66.3% in September, while Medicaid revenue mix decreased to 50%.

NIC MAP Vision continued to hear from 26 contributors across 47 states between August and September, but there was a drop in total participating skilled nursing properties for this report, from 1,277 to 1,273.