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Long Term Care Insurance Association Reports Fewer US Nursing Home Beds

Armen Hareyan's picture

Despite continued studies that report the aging of Americans, the number of available nursing home beds continues to decline. Several states reported double digit declines in the number of available beds. A new report from the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (AALTCI) indicates the number of available beds at the beginning of 2009 was 1.67 million, a two percent decline from the prior year.

Financial executives predict that if population and economic trends continue, the nation may face a two-class system of providing long-term care for millions of aging and disabled individuals. Those with savings or private insurance will have options including access to private facilities established for individuals who are not dependent on government programs, Medicare and Medicaid.

Skilled nursing facilities that depend on government payments face a projected Medicaid shortfall in 2009 of $15.64 a day or almost $6,000 per-resident on an annual basis according to the AALTCI report. While experts report that the under-funding is not increasing sharply for 2009, it is expected to expand wider in 2010 as state budget shortfalls affect Medicaid shortfalls.

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States recently received $87 billion in increased federal medical assistant percentage (FMAP) funding as a result of the economic stimulus package. Many have not used the funds to increase Medicaid rates paid to facilities. Instead, they have used it to balance their budgets according to several experts who monitor the long-term care industry. Looking forward, a total of 48 states face budget shortfalls.

The number of certified licensed nursing facility beds in the United States was 1.669 million as of December 2008. At the end of 2002, there were some 1.7 million nursing home beds. Texas had the largest number of nursing home beds (122,635), California had 121,950 followed by New York with 120,101. Alaska had the fewest beds with 725.

States reflecting a double-digit percentage decline in the number of nursing home beds are Wisconsin (down 17.9%), Minnesota (down 15.9%), Delaware (down 12.0%), Texas (down 11.9%), Nevada (down 11.2%) and Rhode Island (down 11.0%).

Nursing homes are facing serious financial difficulties because many depend on Medicare and Medicaid payments. Both programs funded by Federal and State taxes have cut benefit payments. As a result of financial deficiencies, in Wisconsin 17 percent of nursing home facilities are reportedly in bankruptcy.

Written by Jesse Slome from the American Association for Long Term Care Insurance