SNF in Trouble After Prohibiting Individuals with OUDs to be Admitted

The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) announced on November 13, 2023, that it had reached an agreement with a Massachusetts-based skilled nursing facility. The facility was reported for violating the ADA, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act after the facility denied admission to individualized who were taking Suboxone or methadone to treat their Opioid Use Disorder (OUD).

Why It Matters

In the announcement, OCR clearly states that it is against the law to deny someone (who is otherwise eligible for admission) placement in a nursing facility because they are actively being treated for OUD. This may be news to some skilled nursing providers, so here’s some pertinent information to review:

Per this Fact Sheet, drug addiction, including opioid addiction, is classified as a disability when the drug addiction substantially limits one or more life activities under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Per this Fact Sheet, nondiscrimination laws that are enforced by OCR prohibit discrimination and require covered entities to provide individuals with equal opportunities to participate in federally funded programs. If an individual in recovery from an Opioid Disorder is a member of a protected group, then these protections extend to these individuals as well. 

For more information, view the US District Attorney’s Office November 13, 2023 Press Release or the HHS OCR Press Release from the same date.

Is your organization struggling with how to address the behavioral health needs of its resident population? CMS Compliance Group can help. Contact us today to discuss how we can help you improve the quality of care provided to residents with OUD and other substance-related disorders and maintain their safety.

Reach out today and let's get started!

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