Twelve skilled nursing facilities operated by Genesis HealthCare have resolved federal allegations that they refused admission to people being treated for opioid dependency, the Department of Health and Human Services announced Monday.
The prospective residents were taking either buprenorphine or methadone for opioid use disorder. Complaints were filed with the United States Attorney’s Offices in the Districts of Rhode Island and Massachusetts, which alleged that facilities in these states had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and the Rehabilitation Act.
The 12 nursing homes must pay a civil penalty of $60,000. Most of that — $50,000 — however, will be suspended and forgiven if Genesis complies with other terms set by the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services, and the states’ U.S. Attorney’s Offices.
Under the agreement, the facilities must adopt a non-discrimination policy and provide training on federal civil rights laws and opioid use dependency to admissions personnel.
“There was no admission of wrongdoing by the centers, nor did the government provide clinical or any other information in support of the allegations,” Lori Mayer, a Genesis spokeswoman told McKnight’s Long-Term Care News on Monday. “To avoid the expense of litigation, however, the centers nevertheless agreed to clarify their admission policies to ensure full compliance with the ADA in connection with medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorders. The updated policy confirms that admission decisions must ensure the safety of all residents in accordance with ADA law, consistent with Genesis policy.”
The settlement helps address a federal goal to end the U.S. opioid crisis, according to HHS.
“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,” Acting United States Attorney Richard Myrus said in a statement.
“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.”