Court ruling denies Medicare funds for Christian Science nursing facilities

Four Christian Science nursing facilities won't be able to fund their nurse training programs with Medicare money, a federal judge ruled this week.

The four facilities, located in Massachusetts, California, Illinois and Texas, operate as religious nonmedical healthcare institutions, which cater to patients whose religious beliefs prohibit conventional medical care. The facilities sought Medicare reimbursement for RNHCI nurse training programs, but had been denied by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services twice prior to their court case.

CMS typically provides reimbursement for RNHCI nurse training, along with other nonmedical items like room, board and walkers, given that the training program adheres to a set of criteria. In this case, the court ruled, the facilities' programs did not meet that criteria, as their accrediting body was an organization that is also affiliated with Christian Science.

In its ruling, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia held that the accrediting body used by the facilities had “no specific standard relating to providing nonmedical care in an RNHIC,” and, therefore, did not qualify under CMS' standards for reimbursement.