Two consumer advocacy groups are calling on lawmakers to remain “cautious” in response to recommendations in a long-term care industry report that found that more than 550 nursing homes have closed during a four-year period. 

The Centers for Medicare Advocacy and the Long Term Care Community Coalition issued the warning to federal lawmakers on Friday. The LeadingAge report, which examined the closures of certified nursing homes and their effect on the industry, made several recommendations to help address the nursing home closure wave.

One suggestion called on states to revisit their Medicaid rate-setting processes and ensure that providers are being reimbursed for the actual cost of care. Another called for a new study by the National Academy of Sciences to evaluate the current survey process for long-term care providers, how that relates to care outcomes and alternative strategies to assure quality nursing home care. 

The consumer groups, however, stressed that nursing homes should not receive additional public funds without being audited and implementing a medical loss ratio. 

“Without an MLR, there is no guarantee that increases in reimbursement rates will be used on direct resident care instead of administrative costs and profits. In fact, nursing home industry rate increases, even those targeted to direct care staff wages, often do not result in improvements in staffing or resident safety,” the groups wrote. 

They also said another study to evaluate current regulations isn’t necessary. 

“Given the realities of nursing home quality and safety, our organizations respectfully urge state and federal policymakers to take steps to hold the nursing home industry accountable for the use of public funds and quality of resident care,” they added.