Skilled nursing facility industry’s future lies in local growth, expert says

If there’s been one recurring theme in the skilled nursing industry over the last few years, it’s distress, with dropping national occupancy stats and new payment models changing the way providers deliver post-acute care, according to Skilled Nursing News.

But one leading industry voice says it isn’t productive to ask about the future of the skilled space as a national, monolithic entity. Instead, like politics, the health of all SNFs is local.

“The answer to that question really depends on where you are in this country,” Marc Zimmet, president of Zimmet Health Care Services Group, said at his company’s annual conference in Atlantic City, N.J. last week. “Health care is a local business. We cannot define the state of skilled nursing facilities on anything but specifics.”

For instance, the rise of Medicare Advantage plans has been blamed for a decline in lengths of stay and lower reimbursements, as these privately managed plans generally demand quicker turnarounds for residents in skilled facilities. But Zimmet asserted that there are certain regions of the country where Medicare Advantage penetration sits higher or lower than the nationwide baseline of about 33%, making the effects of these managed insurance companies uneven depending on region.

In addition, individual markets have seen pressure from so-called “boutique” SNFs that cater to short-stay rehab patients, as well as lower Medicaid reimbursements from state governments.

“But you can’t apply that to what is happening everywhere,” Zimmet said, noting that each state’s Medicaid program is different — with stark differences in coverage even between neighbors New York and New Jersey.

Zimmet’s comments came during a wide-ranging talk urging players in the skilled nursing industry to take a bottom-up view of statistics, rather than relying solely on national occupancy and patient-mix numbers. The Morganville, N.J.-based Zimmet Healthcare Services Group is also in the process of rolling out its own state-based data service that incorporates information from Medicare claims.

Read the full story at Skilled Nursing News.

Topics: Leadership , Uncategorized