Spending for nursing home care dropped 7.2% from April to May despite other healthcare sectors showing signs of recovery amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Analysts said they expect a gradual decline through at least the end of the year.

Overall, nursing home care spending is down 12.7% from February, Altarum’s Center for Value in Health Care detailed in a new report

In contrast, hospital care spending rose 29.5% between April and May — but it is still down 27.1% from February. Dental care spending rose 43.2% from April to May. 

Even though spending has yet to rebound, senior analyst and report co-author Corwin Rhyan explained that the sector has seen a more “moderate decline” when compared to the other healthcare industries during the pandemic. 

“Nursing homes did not have as near of a steep drop that in April, but we are seeing now this persistent decline into May,” Rhyan told McKnight’s

“Care is still being impacted and likely will be impacted over a longer period of time, but it will be a more moderated impact just because there’s less flexibility in nursing home spending compared to more outpatient types of care,” Rhyan explained. 

George Miller

Virus control vital

The ability for spending in the sector to rebound will depend on the “extent to which nursing homes get the virus under control,” added George Miller, report co-author, fellow and Research Team Leader for Altarum’s Center for Value in Health Care. 

“That’s a little hard to predict,” Miller said. 

Rhyan also noted that employment in the sector fell 3% and 4% in April and May, respectively, when compared to last year. He added that though the industry is likely seeing increased spending in patients who require care for COVID-19, that’s being offset by a reduction in other types of care. He expects to see a continued decrease in spending as COVID prevalence increases across the country. 

“Again for nursing homes, I think that relationship will continue to hold through the end of the year. Although, I expect the reductions in spending to be more muted. A longer, slower, more moderate, but continued decline is what I would predict based on the data that we’re seeing,” Rhyan said.