The State of the Long-Term Care Industry

It may be easy for many to skip over this post – after all, if you aren’t working in the long-term care industry, chances are this won’t have much of an impact, right? Wrong. If you, or a loved one is approaching 65 years of age – and/or if you need treatment in a healthcare facility, the state of the long-term care industry is important to understand.

It all begins with funding. In New York State, for example, 75% of the residents in nursing homes are supported by the Medicaid program. For Loretto, which serves 10,000 individuals each year, 72% of residents are supported by Medicaid, and we have a shortfall of $160 per person per day, or a $12 million shortfall each year, in providing care for these residents.

At the same time, nationally, there are 20% or 400,000 fewer frontline long-term care workers than there were pre-pandemic. Nurses are retiring. Nurses and other healthcare workers are leaving the field. Understandably, those who are left are burned out, desiring flexibility, work-life balance and rewarding jobs. And we want to support them, so we’ve implemented four-day work weeks when we can, four-hour and 12-hour shifts, and apprenticeships and leadership training, among others. Of course, all of this is done to support and retain the employees we have, but also to recruit, which is extremely competitive. Large sign-on bonuses aren’t feasible with a $12 million shortfall.

This workforce crisis is now creating access issues in our local hospitals, as they are unable to discharge patients to skilled nursing facilities because we have beds offline due to low staffing levels.

Meanwhile, projections show a significant increase in people over 65, and we anticipate an increase in dementia. As a result, we have expanded our Restorative Care Unit and continue to invest in Memory Care with the addition of our Memory Special Care unit. We are committed to supporting the aging population in Central New York, but there is a limit to what we are able to do given the significant deficit in funding.

Last year, New York State passed a 1% increase to the Medicaid rate, the first rate increase since 2009. In those 14 years, in pre-inflationary dollars, costs grew by 31%. New York State now has the lowest nursing home Medicaid rate in the country.

Since 2020, six nursing homes have closed or been sold; nine are currently in the process of closing or selling; and there have been 50 nursing homes that have closed or sold since 2014.

In short, the long-term care industry is ending 2022 in crisis. Here’s to advocating for a stronger 2023!

You can be an advocate for New York seniors by contacting your legislator and ask them to support the senior safety net by providing reimbursement that covers costs. Please go to this link and complete the simple form and submit. It should only take a few seconds to complete and your voices matter most.