Tag Archives: ADA

DOJ: Denying Services to Persons on MAT Violates ADA

On Thursday, May 10,2018, the US Department of Justice announced that it had reached a settlement agreement with Charlwell House, a skilled nursing facility in Norwood, Massachusetts, to resolve allegations that the facility violated Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by refusing to accept a patient because they were being treated for Opioid Use Disorder (OUD).

Charlwell House is a 124-bed health and rehabilitation center that provides skilled nursing services and rehabilitation programs. According to a complaint filed with the United States Attorney’s Office, an individual seeking admission for treatment at Charlwell House was denied because they were being treated with Suboxone, a medication used to treat OUD. 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.

According to DOJ: “Our office is committed to protecting the rights of people with disabilities, which includes those in treatment for an Opioid Use Disorder,” said United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling. “The number one enforcement priority of my office is addressing Massachusetts’ opioid crisis. Overdoses killed more than 2,000 individuals in Massachusetts last year alone. As Massachusetts faces this overdose epidemic, now more than ever, individuals in recovery must not face discriminatory barriers to treatment. We appreciate the cooperation that Charlwell House has offered throughout our investigation.”

Under the terms of the agreement, Charlwell House will, among other things, adopt a non-discrimination policy, provide training on the ADA and OUD to admissions personnel, and pay a civil penalty of $5,000 to the United States.

Sally Friedman, the Legal Director of the Legal Action Center (LAC), applauded the U.S. Attorney’s office for taking action against this widespread form of discrimination, noting that it is likely the first ADA settlement against a skilled nursing facility for excluding patients because they are taking medication to treat their substance use disorder.

“The case law is abundantly clear that the ADA protects individuals with substance use disorder. This settlement by the Department of Justice should send a resounding message to skilled nursing facilities – and other entities – that denying care to people because they are taking life-saving medication to treat addiction is a discriminatory practice that will not be tolerated.”

This settlement announcement comes on the heels of a letter by the U.S. Attorney’s Office that it is investigating whether the Massachusetts correctional system is violating the ADA by forcing people off addiction medication when they become incarcerated, and an article in STATNews documenting the common practice of nursing facilities refusing to accept patients taking addiction medication.
Information about what to do when forced off medication assisted treatment (MAT) by the criminal justice and child welfare systems or employers is available in LAC’s MAT Advocacy toolkit,www.lac.org/MAT-advocacy.

What We Are Reading This Wee

Much thanks to the American Health Lawyer’s Association (AHLA), for compiling today’s news for us:

Trump Opioid Plan Explicitly Favors Alkermes’ Vivitrol Over Other Addiction Medications.

In covering the White House’s recent national strategy to address the opioid epidemic, STAT (3/26, Facher) reports that when Alkermes CEO Richard Pops testified before a White House commission on the opioid crisis in September, he “stressed the importance of increasing insurance coverage for Vivitrol [naltrexone], but added that patients should be made aware of all available treatment options.” Administration health officials “themselves expressed doubts about the approach,” but a White House spokesman later confirmed that the strategy document referred specifically to naltrexone in its injectable form, which is made only by Alkermes and marketed as Vivitrol.

Draft Legislation Would Bolster FDA’s Powers In Opioid Fight.

The Hill (3/26, Roubein) reports Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) on Monday released draft legislation “aimed at bolstering the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) capacity to respond to the opioid crisis.” One of the draft bills “would let the FDA require drug manufacturers to package certain opioids in set doses, known as ‘blister packs,’” that would reduce the volume of opioids prescribed and be easier to dispose of. The Hill reports other draft legislation “would ensure the FDA can spend the $94 million included in the spending bill passed last week to upgrade equipment at the border, boost laboratory capacity and improve the infrastructure to better seize illegal drugs at the border,” including fentanyl.

The Washington Times (3/26, Howell) reports Alexander also said that the FDA should use the new funding to improve its coordination with US Customs and Borders Protection.

American Dental Association Backs Seven-Day Limits On Opioid Prescriptions.

CBS News (3/26, Strickler) reports on its website that according to new research (PDF) published Monday in the Journal of the American Dental Association, dental prescriptions for opioids have been rising while opioid prescriptions have been declining nationwide. The American Dental Association “has now released a new policy saying they now support statutory limits of seven days for dental opioid prescriptions,” limits not currently embraced by the American Medical Association, “which has so far resisted opioid prescription limits.”

The Hill (3/26, Roubein) reports the new research “shows that 6.4 percent of all opioid prescriptions were written by dentists in 2012, but that rates increased slightly from 2010 to 2015.” ADA president Joseph Crowley said in a press release, “This new policy demonstrates ADA’s firm commitment to help fight the country’s opioid epidemic while continuing to help patients manage dental pain.”

The AP (3/26, Tanner) reports dental opioid prescriptions grew slightly “despite evidence that ibuprofen and acetaminophen work just as well for most dental pain.” The AP reports that according to a study published in the same journal, dentists “are the leading prescribers of opioids for U.S. teens and the largest increase in dental prescriptions from 2010 to 2015 occurred in 11- to 18-year-olds.”

The Washington Examiner (3/26, Leonard) also reports.