First it was Gracedale in Northampton County, now It's Cedarbrook in Lehigh County. Government-run nursing homes are seeing their share of financial problems.

Cedarbrook officials said the nursing home needs $3.6 million to finish out the year. The problem, they said, is the home has fewer residents than expected.

2013 turned out to be more expensive than Cedarbrook had anticipated, and the $3.6 million is needed to operate for the last three weeks of the year.

"Our census, on average, has been 33 below budget, which translates into approximately $5 million in revenue," said Jamie Aurand, Cedarbrook's director.

In addition to fewer patients, Aurand said state and federal funding levels have decreased or remained flat.

The county commissioners are in the middle of reviewing the 2014 budget. Commissioner Percy Doughtery said the county has no choice but to pay the $3.6 million.

"That money is just going to have to come out of the general fund," said Dougherty, adding that the commissioners will have to take money from other areas to pay for Cedarbrook.

Going forward, however, the commissioners are asking for more oversight on issues facing the county nursing home before they turn into a crisis.

"And not just wait until it's handed to us next fall and we have to deal with something that is a surprise to us. We don't want any more surprises," said Commissioner Dan McCarthy.

Aurand said Cedarbrook is taking a proactive approach to its funding issues by exploring partnerships with the area's health networks and renting space to medical service providers.

Another option is selling licenses for beds, which Aurand said could generate roughly $1 million in the short-term and cut county expenses, but he said it could also be problematic with the wave of baby boomers expected to hit the nursing home system in the next decade.

Cedarbrook said it expects to have a game plan of potential opportunities set by the end of the year.