Occupancy held steady while Medicare gained importance for nursing homes: CDC report

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The occupancy rate for nursing homes was steady at 82% between 2000 and 2011, according to the most recent national health report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC compiles the annual review to comply with the Public Health Service Act.

While occupancy rates were consistent, the number of Medicare or Medicaid certified nursing homes declined from 16,389 in 2000 to 15,702 in 2011, according to the CDC's census data. However, the number of Medicare-certified SNFs increased from about 14,800 in 2000 to nearly 15,100 in 2010.

Nursing facilities and continuing care retirement facilities accounted for about 6% of total 2011 healthcare expenditures, the report states. Medicare accounted for about 13% of nursing facility- and CCRC-related expenditures in 2000. That number rose to 22% in 2010. The percent distribution declined for Medicaid during that time period, from 37% to 32%.

Other highlights of the report include new life expectancy numbers and data on emergency care. Between 2000 and 2010, life expectancy at birth increased 2.1 years for males and 1.7 years for females. Seniors most often seek emergency care for falls, according to the report's special feature on emergency care. Seniors who sought emergency care — and who were not then admitted to the hospital — were prescribed fewer drugs on ER discharge than any other age group in 2009-2010.

Click here for the full report.