What Does Increased Funding For HCBS Mean For Skilled Nursing Facilities?

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted patients and families to reconsider nursing homes as a option where loved ones can receive care. Increased infection rates and isolation have prompted individuals to look at other alternatives. The Biden administration proposed a $400 billion plan that will increase funding to home and community-based services (HCBS).

Recently, the number at-home and community-based services have not been able to meet increasing demand among seniors and disabled. Skilled Nursing News reports that it can be argued that these programs need greater support as demand is expected to increase with the baby boom generation aging over the upcoming years.

However, there is a certain set of population that will need skilled nursing care even with other options available. It is feared that increased support for HCBS programs will lead to decreased support for skilled nursing facilities which could negatively impact those that require advance care.

During the pandemic New Jersey based Ocean Healthcare Network, Lakewood, saw an 11% increase in occupancy as hospitals needed a secure place to send patients. In the beginning of the pandemic they saw “an immediate demand for short-term care admission, most requiring advanced care and services.” Their chief strategy officer, Joseph Kiernan, believes that long-term care facilities will always be necessary for those with “complex needs.” Additionally, he “anticipate[s] referral trends to return to pre-pandemic patterns.”

Brian Cloch, a principal at Innovative Health – a Chicagoland-based skilled nursing facility owner/operator, agrees with Kiernan. He claims seniors who live at home require “15 minutes of care three to four times a day” and not all families are able to provide such demands on a regular basis. Additionally, it is more cost-effective to provide services in a congregate setting versus individually.

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