Brookdale CEO Lucinda “Cindy” Baier

Brookdale Senior Living President and CEO Lucinda “Cindy” Baier discussed the company’s plans related to Medicare Advantage and serving the middle market, as well as recent successes in recruiting and occupancy, Wednesday at the Jefferies 2019 Healthcare Conference in New York City.

The Brentwood, TN-based company is still “wrestling with” whether to offer its own Medicare Advantage plan or partner with an existing Medicare Advantage plan to help residents meet their healthcare needs, she said.

“Certainly, Medicare Advantage provides very attractive services to seniors, and many of those services are services that we provide,” Baier said.

The country’s largest senior living community operator should know its future course of action “in the not-too-distant future,” the CEO said. “But the important thing to note is that we are able to give seniors better health outcomes, and so as you think about how the healthcare industry continues to evolve, it will be in the interest of seniors, it will be in the interest of payers and families, to help seniors understand the value that senior living provides,” she added.

Regarding serving middle-income individuals, Baier said Brookdale is thinking about it, just as other operators are.

“There’s a very real issue about the affordability of care for the middle market of seniors as they age, and I think there’s work to be done to see if there is a way to provide support needed for seniors while having the ability to make a profit,” she said. “I don’t know that Brookdale will ultimately play in that space. That’s something that you sort of have to think through, all of the ways that you would re-engineer your business to provide the product.”

Brookdale’s current residents typically have annual incomes of $50,000 or more, Baier said.

A recent highlight for the company, she said, is the higher-than-70% retention rate it has seen for health and wellness directors and executive directors for seven sequential quarters.

Also on the employment front, approximately 1,800 former employees returned to work at Brookdale in the first four months of the year, Baier said, calling the company a “talent magnet.”

“That really shows us that we are becoming an employer of choice and getting the best people in the industry to come back to us,” she added.

Other “really good news,” Baier said, is that the company expects occupancy to turn positive on a sequential basis in May, a month or two earlier than typical.