Nursing Home Use by Medicaid Seniors is Down

Many believe that an aging population means that there will be an explosive growth in the number of Medicaid beneficiaries in nursing homes. But, according to more than 35 years of research (see above), this isn’t necessarily the case. In fact, statistical data shows that nursing home use by Medicaid-eligible seniors has fallen by nearly one-third, from 1.4 million in 1995 to just over 1 million in 2010.

Where are Medicaid seniors living, if not in nursing homes? Studies show that many families are opting for less-restrictive types of care, ranging from assisted living to supervised adult day care. In fact, senior Medicaid beneficiaries are increasingly using home and community-based services (HCBS) options, both private pay and Medicaid-funded.

In 2010, assisted living facilities had about 700,000 residents, and about one in five were receiving Medicaid. Below are some possible reasons why nursing home use by senior Medicaid beneficiaries has declined:

  • State Medicaid programs have been shifting care from nursing facilities to home and community-based settings;
  • Seniors’ enrollment in Medicaid is growing very slowly even though the overall older population is growing rapidly;
  • Nursing homes would rather provide rehabilitation services instead of long-term care because Medicaid pays an average of $125 a day for a long-term care resident, while Medicare pays $500 or $600-a-day for a short-stay patient.
According to Don Redfoot of AARP, “the trend away from Medicaid nursing home stays for seniors is a good one. It is good for seniors, good for the Medicaid program, and even good for many facilities whose real value-added may be in shorter-term rehabilitative care.” Redfoot states that “Older people continue to lag far behind their younger counterparts in their access to HCBS that can enhance independence and generally have lower per-person costs. Over half of Medicaid expenditures for aged beneficiaries (55 percent) still go toward paying for nursing home services, though that is down from 76 percent in 1975. Eliminating Medicaid’s institutional bias could turn the good news about Medicaid use in old age into great news — both for beneficiaries and for the country.” Read Mr. Redfoot’s article on the AARP blog and the recent Forbes article, “Nursing Home Use by Medicaid Seniors is Plunging”, for additional details.

Do you have a loved one who is in a nursing home or nearing the need for nursing home care? Or are you simply looking to plan ahead in the event nursing home care, or one of the other alternatives described in the article, is needed in the future? Nursing homes in Northern Virginia cost $12-$15,000 per month. Life Care Planning and Medicaid Asset Protection is the process of protecting assets from having to be spent down in connection with entry into a nursing home, while also helping ensure that you or your loved one get the best possible care and maintain the highest possible quality of life, whether at home, in an assisted living facility, or in a nursing home. Learn more at The Fairfax and Fredericksburg Elder Law Firms of Evan H. Farr, P.C. website. Call 703-691-1888 to make an appointment for a no-cost  consultation.


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About Evan H Farr, CELA, CAP

Evan H. Farr is a 4-time Best-Selling author in the field of Elder Law and Estate Planning. In addition to being one of approximately 500 Certified Elder Law Attorneys in the Country, Evan is one of approximately 100 members of the Council of Advanced Practitioners of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is a Charter Member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners.