The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal civil rights statute that was enacted in 1990 to protect individuals with disabilities from discrimination by employers, state and local government, and public-serving entities. The rights of people with HIV and opioid use disorder are protected under the ADA, yet these rights are frequently violated. This month, the Boston Medical Center team talks with Greg Dorchak, Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Civil Rights Unit at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts, who has led the charge in protecting people with opioid use disorder. During the conversation they cover the different ways providers, facilities, and systems violate the ADA; how these violations differ from other types of discriminatory policies and practices; and how civil rights statutes can be useful tools in improving care systems for people with HIV and opioid use disorder.
“The magnitude of discrimination that each facility engages in is just on an order that is really unlike anything we’ve seen in other disability rights cases…We were talking about hundreds upon hundreds of times that one particular skilled nursing facility would write ‘cannot accept this patient because of their history of drug use,’ ‘cannot accept this patient because they’re on methadone,’ ‘cannot accept the patient because of suboxone.” -- Greg Dorchak