Skilled nursing operators again saw record occupancy declines due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, new data released Wednesday by the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC) revealed. 

SNF occupancy levels dropped another 81 basis points to 73.8% between July and August, which is a new record low. Overall, occupancy has dropped 9.6 percentage points since March, when it was 83.4%, and has declined more than 10.9 percentage points since February, according to NIC.

The analysis also noted that occupancy numbers for SNFs are down 10.5 percentage points when compared to August 2019. 

“The occupancy trend was consistent across geographies as both urban and rural areas decreased from July to August ending at 73.7% and 75.1%, respectively,” NIC Senior Principal Bill Kauffman explained in a blog post.

The report also noted that patient day mix across all four types — Medicare, managed Medicare, Medicaid and private — all trended differently in recent months. Medicare and managed Medicare patient day mix increased from July to April, while Medicaid and private patient day mix decreased. 

Particularly, Medicare patient day mix increased from 12.1% in July to 12.5% in August. Medicare revenue mix also increased from 20.8% to 21.6% during those same months. Additionally, Medicaid revenue mix declined from 48.8% to 48.4% between July and August. 

Kauffman explained the results suggest the “weakness in occupancy from July to August may be due to Medicaid admissions and/or patient days.”

“The combination of the overall decline in occupancy and the increase in Medicare patient day mix and revenue mix suggests that the waiver of the Three-Day Rule imposed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is having a positive impact on Medicare days,” he added.