News & Press Releases

Skilled Nursing Occupancy Holds Steady at 84% in Fourth Quarter, 2019

New NIC data present industry snapshot pre-COVID-19.

ANNAPOLIS (March 18, 2020)— Skilled nursing occupancy in the United States remained stable in the fourth quarter of 2019 at 83.8 percent, up from 83.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018, according to the latest National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC) Skilled Nursing Data Report. NIC experts say these data offer a baseline for the first quarter of 2020, when effects of the flu season and COVID-19 outbreak will begin to become visible.

“Skilled nursing occupancy before the COVID-19 outbreak was stable,” said Bill Kaufman, senior principal at NIC. “At the end of last year, the outlook for skilled nursing was healthier than a year ago. While we do not yet know how COVID-19 will impact facility occupancy in 2020, we began the year from a position of relative strength.”

To ensure the safety of residents and staff of skilled nursing facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is restricting visitors and changing the rules for covered facility stays. Patients who remain in the hospital fewer than three days may now receive Medicare-reimbursed skilled nursing care, which will help with facility financial stability.

“In these unprecedented times, it’s critical that the federal government do everything in its power to protect frontline healthcare workers, so they are in the best possible position to treat skilled nursing facility residents,” said Beth Mace, chief economist for NIC. “NIC applauds CMS for these new guidelines that further stabilize the industry and can lessen the impact of the pandemic on older patients and healthcare workers.”

Medicare revenue per patient day increased 4.6 percent in the fourth quarter, ending the year at $544. This increase was anticipated due to the new CMS-sanctioned Patient Driven Payment Model (PDPM), which took effect on October 1, 2019. The model reimburses skilled nursing facilities based on the medical complexity of patients rather than the pre-PDPM model based on volume of services provided.

To read the full Skilled Nursing Report, visit For the latest on COVID-19 guidance, visit or

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CONTACT: Rachel Griffith, 202-868-4824;

About the National Investment Center for Senior Housing & Care
The National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC) is a 501(c)3 organization established in 1991 whose mission is to enable access and choice for America’s elders by providing data, analytics, and connections that bring together investors and providers. For more information, visit, and follow NIC on Twitter.


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