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Operator of 21 skilled nursing facilities in Massachusetts resolve allegations they turned away patients on Opioid Use Disorder meds



BOSTON – The U.S. Attorney’s Office reached an agreement with Next Step Healthcare, LLC, the operator of 21 skilled nursing facilities in Massachusetts, to resolve allegations that Next Step violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by turning away patients who indicated they were prescribed medications for Opioid Use Disorder.

“Nobody would ever choose to have a substance use disorder. The destruction this disease inflicts on its victims is unconscionable. When people finally find the strength and courage to be open to entering recovery, they should be met with support and understanding, not discrimination and barriers to healthcare,” said United States Attorney Rachael Rollins. “As our Commonwealth continues to battle an opioid epidemic, this office will ensure that people who receive MOUD have access to the healthcare they are lawfully entitled to and often need. We appreciate Next Step’s cooperation in modifying its policies and practices to come into compliance with the ADA, and we strongly encourage other skilled nursing facilities to proactively do the same.”

Individuals receiving treatment for Opioid Use Disorder are generally considered disabled under the ADA, which, among other things, prohibits private healthcare providers from discriminating on the basis of disability. The United States alleges that Next Step denied admission to 548 individuals who indicated they were prescribed MOUD while seeking admission to Next Step’s programs. These individuals sought admission to the facilities for health issues unrelated to their addiction, but also required MOUD to treat their OUD.

Under the terms of the agreement, Next Step will, among other things, adopt a non-discrimination policy regarding the provision of services to individuals with disabilities, including individuals with SUD or individuals on MOUD, provide training on disability discrimination and SUD to admissions personnel, pay a civil penalty of $92,383 to the United States, $10,000 of which will be paid now and $82,393 of which shall be suspended and forgiven if Next Step materially complies with the terms of the agreement.

This is the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s 10th settlement agreement with a skilled nursing facility operator. The Office has now entered into 16 settlement agreements and six letters of resolution to ensure ADA compliance arising from OUD treatment. The District of Massachusetts is leading the country in this type of important work and will continue to uphold the ADA and support people with substance use disporders.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michelle Leung, Gregory Dorchak and Annapurna Balakrishna of Rollins’ Civil Division handled the matter.

Next Step Healthcare has the following locations in Massachusetts.

Attleboro Healthcare
27 George Street
Attleboro, MA 02703

Braintree Manor Healthcare
1102 Washington Street
Braintree, MA 02184

Chetwynde Healthcare
1650 Washington Street
West Newton, MA 02465

Dedham Healthcare
1007 East Street
Dedham, MA 02026

Dexter House Healthcare
120 Main Street
Malden, MA 02148

Fall River Healthcare
1748 Highland Avenue
Fall River, MA 02720

Fitchburg Healthcare
1199 John Fitch Highway
Fitchburg, MA 01420

Garden Place Healthcare
193 Pleasant Street
Attleboro, MA 02703

Gloucester Healthcare
272 Washington Street
Gloucester, MA 01930

Lee Healthcare
620 Laurel Street
Lee, MA 01238

Melrose Healthcare
40 Martin Street
Melrose, MA 02176

Norwood Healthcare
460 Washington Street
Norwood, MA 02062

Oakhill Healthcare
76 North Street
Middleboro, MA 02346

Plymouth Harborside Healthcare
19 Obery Street
Plymouth, MA 02360

South Dennis Healthcare
1 Love Lane
South Dennis, MA 02660

The Elmhurst Healthcare
743 Main Street
Melrose, MA 02176

The Hermitage Healthcare
383 Mill Street
Worcester, MA 01602

The Landing at Laurel Lake
600 Laurel Street
Lee, MA 01238

Walpole Healthcare
160 Main Street
Walpole, MA 02081

Wedgemere Healthcare
146 Dean Street
Taunton, MA 02780

West Newton Healthcare
25 Armory Street
West Newton, MA 02465

Westborough Healthcare
8 Colonial Drive
Westborough, MA 01581

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