Wingate, Three Other Health Care Firms Settle Case Involving Those Treated for Opioid Disorder

A Wingate Healthcare location in Haverhill. (File photograph.)

Wingate Healthcare, which operates a location in Haverhill, was among four companies recently settling a federal complaint that it turned away prospective residents because they had been treated for opioid use disorder.

Besides Wingate, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Boston accused CareOne Realty; Hebrew Senior Life; and Sheehan Health Group, which manages Laurel Ridge and Presentation Rehabilitation Centers, of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, Rehabilitation Act and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act by denying admission to those being treated with buprenorphine or methadone, medications used to treat opioid use disorder.

“Compliance with the ADA is mandatory, and the ADA protects people with recognized disabilities, such as Opioid Use Disorder,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Nathaniel R. Mendell. “Vindicating the right to treatment afforded by the ADA is important to my office—it is an effective way to prevent discrimination against disabled people and ensure fair access to treatment for those in recovery.”

Individuals receiving medication to treat the drug disorder are generally considered disabled under federal civil rights laws. Those who filed complaints were seeking admission for health issues unrelated to their dependency, but also require treatment for opioid use disorder.

Under the terms of the settlement, the companies will, among other things, adopt a non-discrimination policy and provide training on the Americans with Disabilities Act and pay penalties of $55,000, of which $35,000 will be suspended and forgiven if they comply with the agreement.

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