Altarum’s Center for Value in Health Care detailed the spending decline in nursing homes this year in a new report. Spending for nursing home care dropped 7.2% from April to May despite other healthcare sectors showing signs of recovery amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Analysts said they expect a gradual decline through at least the end of the year. Overall, nursing home care spending is down 12.7% from February.

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has the skilled nursing industry in a challenging state right now after new data revealed occupancy at SNFs dropped to 78.9% by the end of April. In March, SNF occupancy had dropped to 83.4%, which were the lowest levels since 2012.

Rhyan also noted that employment in the sector fell 3% and 4% in April and May, respectively, when compared to last year. He added that though the industry is likely seeing increased spending in patients who require care for COVID-19, that’s being offset by a reduction in other types of care. He expects to see a continued decrease in spending as COVID prevalence increases across the country.

“Nursing homes did not have as near of a steep drop that in April, but we are seeing now this persistent decline into May,” senior analyst and report co-author Corwin Rhyan explained that the sector has seen a more “moderate decline” when compared to the other healthcare industries during the pandemic.

The ability for spending in the sector to rebound will depend on the “extent to which nursing homes get the virus under control,” added George Miller, report co-author, fellow and Research Team Leader for Altarum’s Center for Value in Health Care. “That’s a little hard to predict,” Miller said.

The findings also revealed that Medicaid revenue patient per day increased by $10.53, or 4.9%, when compared to April 2019.

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