Historically, nursing homes have been the predominant provider of long term care in Wisconsin. In 1981, the State instituted a moratorium for nursing facilities which remained in effect through 1998. The State no longer reviews the building of new facilities that are replacement beds; it has a Certificate of Need program for bed applications that would add to the total.
Over the past 20 years, the state has made an effort to reduce nursing home utilization by developing home and community service options. Between 1996 and 2001, the number of staffed licensed beds in Wisconsin nursing homes declined 12 percent from 47,200 to 41,500. However, even after a decade of decline, the nursing home bed rate in Wisconsin is still higher than the national average.1
Currently, about 10 percent of Wisconsin's nursing homes are in bankruptcy. The state does not know the current distribution of nursing home beds and whether it matches need. Nursing home closures have created several transition issues, for example, finding alternative housing for residents required to move.