Nine senior living facilities in Nebraska closed in 2021

Published: Dec. 30, 2021 at 6:57 PM CST
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STANTON, Neb. (KTIV) - Most of the facilities were located in rural areas, and industry officials have a host of reasons for the closures.

It’s a sign of staffing shortages and low morale, leaving some rural facilities without any care at all. The Nebraska Healthcare Association and a facility in Stanton said a drop in employees is partly to blame for forcing these facilities to close.

Jalene Carpenter, the president and CEO of the Nebraska Health Care Association said 54% of residents at the facilities are paid for with Medicaid. But the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) hasn’t adjusted its rates with inflation, meaning the facilities are absorbing more costs.

“So I can’t raise my prices. And so that’s the biggest issue. And then the other part of that’s really important, is if I raise prices for my private pay, that only expedites them transitioning to Medicaid faster, said Carpenter.

Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) has asked the federal government to temporarily increase the amount of money paid to senior living facilities by $20, but that would be a band-aide measure, Carpenter said. Right now, she said CMS is underpaying for residents by about $40.

Sonya Locke, the interim director at the Stanton Health Center, said the facility’s assisted living wing had to close in August because of a lack of staff. While the wing hopes to reopen early next year, Locke said a federal vaccine mandate aimed at Medicaid facilities caused staff to leave.

“If the court rules that they’re able to move forward with the vaccine mandate, they (the federal government) will have to decide if they want nursing homes to remain open, or close their doors off due to the vaccine,” she said.

For those looking to enter the healthcare field, Nebraska has loosened some requirements for new employees. The NHCA has resources on its website.

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