Nursing Jobs in Assisted Living Centers Expected to Decline

Skilled nursing facilities throughout the U.S. are expected to lay off approximately 20,000 employees sometime in the near feature in response to recent Medicare payment cuts that went into effect October 1st. Facilities must take action to balance their budgets after incoming payments from Medicare are significantly reduced. A large portion of the job layoffs will affect certified nursing assistants and licensed practical nurses working in assisted care centers.

The negative effects will also impact nursing home employees who survive the layoffs as many facilities will reduce their employee compensation packages by requiring higher employee contributions to health insurance plans, reducing number of paid holidays and eliminating or decreasing employer contributions to 401k retirement plans. The data supporting these claims is drawn from a recent survey conducted in October 2011 by Avalere Health which surveyed approximately 1/5 of all skilled nursing facilities.

The recent Medicare payment cuts are also expected to eliminate the pending creation of about 20,000 new jobs in the SNF industry. Since a large portion of SNF staff members are nurses this will have a negative impact on the nursing job outlook for the coming years. On the bright side, about 77% of facilities said that they do not plan on canceling plans for facility expansion and new hires.

Future developments regarding employment for nurses in SNF will depend heavily upon which direction Medicare payments go. This industry relies heavily upon Medicare payments because Medicaid payments barely cover the actual costs of care and cash-pay customers are few and far between. Therefore, the future job outlook for nurses working in these types of facilities will depend upon how Medicare payments are determined. Currently the U.S. Congress and state governments are still considering Medicare and Medicaid payment reductions and should these take place the nursing employment conditions might worsen quickly in response to further cutbacks.

For nurses who have recently graduated and passed their nclex exam it might be best to avoid applying for jobs in the SNF sector until we see what happens next. Safer employment opportunities might be available in large hospitals that are less affected by Medicare payment cuts. Larger organizations tend to be more diversified and therefore more resilient to downturns. Seeking employment within a highly stable medical organization with a wide variety of income sources would be the best pathway for a new nurse to follow.