Managed Medicare revenue per patient day hit a new low in January, despite increasing steadily during the early pandemic months, according to new figures from the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care.

Data reported by NIC on Thursday showed that managed Medicare RPPD hit a record low of $458 during early 2021 and is down 2.1% since Jan. 2020. In contrast, Medicare patient day mix increased 81 basis points from December to January and stood at 7.7% for the month after hitting a low of 5.4% in May.

NIC senior principal Bill Kauffman explained the increase in managed Medicare seen between May 2020 and Jan. 2021 suggests it’s playing an increasing role in overall operations but “this is all in the context of a significant decline in occupancy.”

“Managed Medicare admissions will likely continue to be significantly below levels prior to the start of the pandemic,” Kauffman said. 

Skilled nursing occupancy hit a new low of 71.2% during January — a decrease of 46 basis points since December, when it hit 71.7%. The figure is also a 13.8% decrease since pre-pandemic levels of 85% were seen in Feb. 2020. 

Skilled nursing occupancy hit a new low of 71.2% during January. (NIC)

“The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted census at skilled nursing properties due to many challenges including the vulnerable population living in the properties, local and state level regulatory restrictions, and a significant decrease in hospital referrals,” Kauffman explained. 

However, he added that there is reason for hope in the near future that the figure will rebound thanks to vaccination clinics at SNFs and the relaxation of visitation guidelines. Kauffman predicted that operators could see “some stability in occupancy in the coming months.”