More Wisconsin nursing homes close as costs rise

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Nursing home providers say Medicaid reimbursement rates may have contributed to an increase in nursing home closures in Wisconsin last year.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services says 10 long-term care facilities closed in Wisconsin last year, compared to six closures in 2016.

Providers tell Wisconsin Public Radio that reimbursement rates aren't keeping pace with the cost to provide care.

The rates are affecting facilities' ability to recruit and retain workers. John Vander Meer is the executive director of the Wisconsin Health Care Association. He says an industry survey of almost 690 providers found 11,500 unfilled caregiver positions across the state in 2016.

The state's current budget will raise reimbursement rates for skilled nursing facilities by 2 percent each year. Providers are hoping to see a larger discussion about reforming nursing home payments.