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COVID-19 Had a Devastating Impact on Medicare Beneficiaries in Nursing Homes

According to a report from the HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG), nursing home residents have been particularly affected by COVID-19, as they are predominantly elderly, tend to have underlying conditions, and live in close quarters. This is true in the Reading-Berks County area as well as around the nation. Although data on the number of nursing home residents who were diagnosed with COVID-19 or likely COVID-19 have not always been readily available, this data snapshot provides objective, standardized data based on Medicare claims for all Medicare beneficiaries in nursing homes throughout the country.


Although the data is from 2020, the newest spikes in COVID variants warrant concern.

  • Two in five Medicare beneficiaries in nursing homes were diagnosed with either COVID-19 or likely COVID-19 in 2020.
  • Almost 1,000 more beneficiaries died per day in April 2020 than in April 2019.
  • Overall mortality in nursing homes increased to 22 percent in 2020 from 17 percent in 2019.
  • About half of Black, Hispanic, and Asian beneficiaries in nursing homes had or likely had COVID-19, and 41 percent of White beneficiaries did.
  • Understanding the pandemic’s effects on nursing home residents is necessary if tragedies like this are to be averted.

The toll that the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on Medicare beneficiaries in nursing homes demonstrates the need for increased action to mitigate the effects of the ongoing pandemic and to avert such tragedies from occurring in the future.

Besides the health and safety of residents, a major consideration when it comes to planning for a move to a nursing home is financial health. Guardianship and Medicaid asset and benefits protection are vital to ensuring your loved one is protected.

The law office of elder law attorney Scott C. Painter, P.C., is located in Wyomissing (outside of Reading, PA, in Berks County) and offers trusted legal services in the areas of elder law, including nursing home planning, trust and estate services, and veterans benefits. Scott C. Painter is a Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA®), and he is also a member of the National Association of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA).

If you have an issue or question, we encourage you to call us. With legal matters, time is of the essence. Call us for a consultation at 610-378-5140. The $300 consultation fee is waived if Attorney Painter is retained to perform services.