$5K fine for opioid refusal

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A skilled nursing facility that denied admission to a patient receiving treatment for opioid dependency has settled federal discrimination charges.

Charlwell Operating LLC, owner of the 124-bed Charlwell House in Norwood, MA, will pay $5,000 and agree not to discriminate against patients with opioid use disorders, the Justice Department announced.

The government's accusations date to 2017, after Charlwell adopted policies stating it would maintain use of opioid addiction treatments, including Suboxone. But when a hospital requested a bed for a patient on that drug, the nursing home denied admission, citing state regulations. The facility has accepted no residents needing medically assisted treatment since creating its policy, authorities found — in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Whether skilled nursing is required to accept such patients is an area of unsettled law. Federal regs limit who can prescribe and oversee Suboxone and similar drugs, meaning nursing homes would have to ensure they have the right staff on hand.