New York State Advocates Seek Legislation on Opioid Settlement Dollars
Written by Allegra Schorr – NY AATOD Board Delegate
Advocates for substance use disorder treatment and prevention in New York State sought legislation on the distribution of opioid settlement dollars but the legislature and executive were unsuccessful in agreeing to terms during the budget session. The legislative houses sought to create a “lock-box” special account and an appropriation bill to ensure that the funds would not get swept into the state’s general fund. As negotiations for the New York State budget were drawing to a close, chasm remained between the executive on one side and the legislature and advocates on the other. Governor Andrew Cuomo would like direct control of the use of any opioid settlement dollars which puts him at odds with treatment providers and those who have been directly impacted by the opioid epidemic.
Thus far, New York has received $32 million in a settlement with the consulting firm, McKinnsey and Company, but other lawsuits worth millions of dollars are outstanding. Many other states have similar lawsuits which may be tracked here:https://www.opioidsettlementtracker.com/global-settlement-tracker.
The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Harvard University FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, and the Harvard Medical School; Blavatnik Institute for Health Care Policy have all published reports to inform policymakers and help ensure that evidence is used in directing opioid settlement dollars toward public health measures.
In New York, the question of how opioid settlement dollars will be spent is temporarily on hold. Christine Khaikin, health policy attorney at the Legal Action Center says, “advocates are seeking protections for the settlement dollars to ensure they are directed only to expand and enhance services for SUD prevention, treatment, recovery, and harm reduction but an agreement wasn’t made for inclusion in the budget. The settlement money will be coming soon and legislation is necessary to create a lock-box for those funds and prevent them from being used for potholes. Advocates will continue to push for this in the coming weeks.”
Reference for Website
The Opioid Settlement Tracker. (n.d.). Opioid litigation global settlement tracker — Opioid settlement tracker. Retrieved April 1, 2021, from https://www.opioidsettlementtracker.