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U.S. Attorney’s Office settles disability discrimination allegations with operator of skilled nursing facilities

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The U.S. Attorney’s Office reached an agreement today with Alliance Health and Human Services, the operator of eight skilled nursing facilities in Massachusetts, to resolve allegations that they violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by turning away patients because they were being treated for Opioid Use Disorder (OUD).

According to the complaint, Alliance denied individuals seeking admission on more than 350 occasions because they were being treated with buprenorphine or methadone, medications used to treat OUD. These individuals were seeking admission to the facilities for health issues unrelated to their addiction, but also required that the facilities administer those treatments as they would administer any other medication. Individuals receiving treatment for OUD are generally considered disabled under the ADA, which, among other things, prohibits private healthcare providers from discriminating on the basis of disability.

Under the terms of the agreement, Alliance will, among other things, adopt a non-discrimination policy, provide training on the ADA and OUD to admissions personnel, pay a civil penalty of $50,000 to the United States, $10,000 of which will be paid now and $40,000 of which shall be suspended and forgiven if Alliance materially complies with the terms of the agreement.

This matter is part of an ongoing effort by the U.S. Attorney’s Office to enforce the Title III of the ADA and to eliminate discriminatory barriers to treatment for OUD. In May 2018, the U.S. Attorney’s Office reached a settlement with Charlwell House, a rehabilitation center that provides skilled nursing services. A similar settlement was reached with Athena Health Care Systems in September 2019. Today’s settlement marks the third resolution in the District of Massachusetts.

This matter was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Torey Cummings and Gregory Dorchak of Lelling’s Civil Rights Unit.

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