Skilled nursing occupancy climbed for a third straight month in April, reaching 73.2%, according to the latest data released by the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care. 

The latest skilled nursing monthly report by NIC MAP also found that occupancy is now up 185 basis points from reaching a low of 71.3% in January. Occupancy is still down 12.3% from pre-pandemic levels — 85.5% reported in February 2020. 

“There is optimism that occupancy will continue to increase through 2021 as vaccinations continue around the country and as elective surgeries rise, thereby supporting admissions to skilled nursing properties,” the report explained. “However, occupancy still is very low relative to pre-pandemic levels and cash flow is a concern at some properties.” 

Medicare patient day mix declined for a fourth straight month to 12% of patient days, while Medicare revenue mix dropped to 21.1% between March and April. 

The report explained that the drops suggest that as resident cases of COVID-19 have declined, there have been fewer patients converted from Medicaid to Medicare, “which was helpful when cases among residents were elevated as [the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services] waived the three-day rule.”

Medicaid revenue mix increased 85 basis points from March to April, ending the month at 50%. The report said Medicaid days are expected to increase as occupancy continues to increase during 2021.