Genesis HealthCare has agreed to a settlement surrounding denied admissions for prospective residents receiving medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder (OUD).
Nine Genesis skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) across Rhode Island and Massachusetts were accused of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Rehabilitation Act and Patient Protection and the Affordable Care Act when they allegedly denied admission to individuals undergoing MAT with buprenorphine or methadone, FDA-approved medications used for OUD treatment.
Those receiving such treatments for OUD are considered disabled under federal civil rights laws, according to the press release.
“Secretary [Xavier] 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,” Dr. Robinsue Frohboese, HHS acting director of the Office of Civil Rights, said in a statement announcing the agreement. “This agreement and the steps that Genesis is taking across its facilities advances this important goal.”
Genesis is the fourth SNF that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts has settled with for denying admission to patients in treatment for OUD, according to the release.
“Genesis, on behalf of nine affiliated centers in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, entered into a voluntary resolution agreement (VRA) related to allegations that the centers denied admission to individuals that had an opioid use disorder related to suboxone,” Genesis spokesperson Lori Mayer said in an emailed statement to Skilled Nursing News, Behavioral Health Business’s sister publication. “There was no admission of wrongdoing by the centers, nor did the government provide clinical or any other information in support of the allegations.”
Per the terms of the settlement agreement, Genesis facilities will adopt a non-discrimination policy and provide ADA and OUD training to staff, among other requirements. The operator will also pay a civil penalty of $60,000. Of that, $50,000 will be suspended and forgiven if the facilities comply with agreement terms, the press release stated.
Mayer said Genesis entered into the agreement to avoid the expense of litigation by clarifying their admission policies, ensuring full compliance with ADA guidelines 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.”