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U.S. Skilled Nursing Facility Occupancy Rate Rises to Nearly 84%, First Year-Over-Year Increase in Four Years

Data from National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care suggest increasing demand and a shrinking bed supply is driving increased occupancy.

ANNAPOLIS (June 12, 2019)—Occupancy in U.S. skilled nursing facilities reached 83.7 percent in the first quarter of 2019, representing the first year-over-year increase since January 2015. The data come from the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC). NIC’s first quarter 2019 Skilled Nursing Data Report showed increased occupancy in both rural and urban areas.

Skilled nursing facilities are inpatient healthcare facilities for patients who need nursing, rehabilitation, or related services, but do not require hospitalization.

“The continued upward trend in skilled nursing occupancy this quarter suggests we are seeing more than flu season and other seasonal factors driving the increase,” said Bill Kauffman, senior principal at NIC. “Occupancy was also up between March 2018 and 2019, suggesting supply and demand are becoming more closely aligned. NIC 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 some rural areas.”

NIC reports that skilled nursing revenue is increasingly coming from Medicare Advantage (MA)—health insurance plans offered by private companies approved by Medicare. NIC data show MA plans now represent 14 percent of total skilled nursing revenue in urban areas and 5.4 percent in rural areas.

In addition, Medicaid patients account for most of the patient population in skilled nursing facilities, NIC experts say, even though Medicaid reimbursement in many states has not kept up with the cost of care. This, among other factors, is contributing to the recent spate of facility closures.

“Skilled nursing is increasingly reliant on Medicare Advantage and Medicaid for revenue, which is challenging many facilities’ financial wellbeing,” said Beth Mace, NIC’s chief economist. “Reimbursement rate pressures, competition from other care settings, and high personnel costs are also impacting the sector.”

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For more information and to speak with an expert, please contact Rachel Griffith at 202-868-4824,

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 by providing data, analytics, and connections that bring together investors and providers in independent living, assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing and post-acute care. Through its industry leading annual conferences, NIC MAP® Data Service, research, analytics and sector outreach, NIC serves as an indispensable resource for the seniors housing and care sector. For more information, visit and follow NIC on Twitter.


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