BOSTON – The U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Districts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced today an agreement with Genesis HealthCare Inc. (Genesis) to resolve allegations that 12 of its skilled nursing facilities located in Rhode Island and Massachusetts denied admission to prospective residents because they were prescribed an FDA-approved medication for Opioid Use Disorder (OUD). This is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Rehabilitation Act and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
The U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Districts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island opened the investigation after receiving complaints alleging that individuals were denied admission to the Genesis facilities because they were being treated with buprenorphine or methadone, medications used to treat OUD. Individuals receiving medication to treat OUD are generally considered disabled under federal civil rights laws. The complainants in this case were seeking admission for health issues unrelated to their dependency, but also needed treatment for OUD.
Under the terms of the settlement agreement, these 12 skilled nursing facilities operated by Genesis will, among other things, adopt a non-discrimination policy and provide training on the ADA and OUD to admissions personnel. The company will also pay a civil penalty of $60,000, of which $50,000 will be suspended and forgiven if the designated facilities comply with the terms of the agreement.
“The ADA is the law of the land, and the ADA makes it illegal to discriminate against people with disabilities – including Opioid Use Disorder,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Nathaniel R. Mendell. “All providers must comply with the ADA, and we are happy to vindicate the rights of those in recovery by protecting their fair access to necessary treatment.”
“As Rhode Island and the rest of the country continues to confront an overdose crisis, individuals in recovery should never have to face discriminatory barriers to healthcare,” said Acting United States Attorney for the District of Rhode Island Richard Myrus. “Elimination of these discriminatory barriers is not only a right under federal civil rights laws, it can be a matter of life and death. We appreciate Genesis’s cooperation in modifying its policies for compliance with the ADA, and we encourage other skilled nursing facilities to proactively do the same.”
“Secretary Becerra has made advancing the goal of ending the Opioid Crisis a key priority for HHS, particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this deadly crisis. This agreement and the steps that Genesis is taking across its facilities advances this important goal by ensuring civil rights laws protect healthcare access for people who are in treatment for Opioid Use Disorder,” said HHS Acting Director of the Office of Civil Rights Dr. Robinsue Frohboese.
In coordination with the U.S. Attorney’s Offices, HHS participated in the investigation into these allegations that these facilities. Genesis is the fourth skilled nursing facility that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts has settled with for denying admission to patients receiving OUD treatment, in violation of the ADA.
Acting U.S. Attorney Mendell of the District of Massachusetts, Acting U.S. Attorney Myrus of the District of Rhode Island, and HHS Acting Director of the OCR Dr. Frohboese made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sara Bloom and Gregory Dorchak of the District of Massachusetts, Amy Romero of the District of Rhode Island and Supervisory Equal Opportunity Specialist Erin Walker of HHS handled the matter.
The U.S. Attorney’s Offices are committed to investigating alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Those interested in learning more about the Americans with Disabilities Act may access www.ada.gov or call the Department of Justice’s toll-free information line at (800) 514-0301 or (800) 514-0383 (TTY).
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