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Turning Legal Settlements, Fed Funding into Lifelines
As States and Communities Receive Legal Settlements and Federal Funding, Innovative Private Treatment Programs May Find Opportunities to Reach More People
In New Mexico, the news that the state will soon receive close to $200 million as part of a legal settlement from drug distributors McKesson, AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal Health for their role in exacerbating the opioid epidemic should be good news. Indeed, it’s a potential lifeline for a state whose increase in fentanyl overdose more than tripled the rest of the country in from 2020 to 2021, according to a recent article in the Santa Fe Reporter. Still, the money will do little to alleviate the struggle faced by with addiction and overdose without a concrete plan for where – and how – to use that money.
“This is money coming out of the sky,” NM Attorney General Hector Balderas said in the Santa Fe Reporter article, but “elected leaders and health officials are in the dark. I see it as a real game-changer, but we’re underprepared on the delivery side.”
New Mexico is not alone in its struggle to formulate the best plan for the use of settlement money or other sources of funding. Other states and communities have already – or are poised to – receive compensation from negligent companies for their roles in creating the opiod epidemic the nation faces. For example, the state of Oklahoma recently received a $250 million settlement from opioid distributors.
Meanwhile, a federal initiative, launched by the Biden-Harris administration will direct $1.6 billion directed Communities Facing Addiction. “The investments made through SAMHSA’s State Opioid Response (SOR) and Tribal Opioid Response (TOR) grant programs and HRSA’s rural communities opioid response programs will help communities looking to leverage every tool at their disposal – from prevention to harm reduction to treatment and recovery supports for people in need,” writes Mark Shandrow in Rehab News.
But how will these sources of funding be used? Where will the money go and how can it benefit the most people? Those questions are still up in the air.
Solutions for the addiction crisis
In Colorado, where drug overdose deaths doubled over four years, according to an article in the Denver Post, one popular solution is expanding the accessibility of residential treatment to uninsured and poor people, as well as increasing the number of beds available. The article reports: “To (Mary) Brewer (founder and president of New Beginnings Recovery Center), one of the most critical solutions to the drug crisis is more money to make treatment accessible to people of all income levels and ages. It’s unknown how many treatment beds there are in the Denver area, but it’s clear there are few options for minors, few options for poor people and few options for people living in rural Colorado. There’s an urgent need for hundreds, if not thousands, of more beds in the state, she said.”
There’s an urgent need for hundreds, if not thousands, of more beds in the state.
In New Mexico, the “New Mexico Opioid Allocation Agreement,” stipulates that settlement money that has already been received be used for opioid abatement and treatment, or “strategies that directly mitigate harms of opioid addiction.” Examples include “investing more in overdose reversal drugs; treating expecting mothers with addictions; building new treatment programs to target areas of need; supplementing pre-existing successful programs to increase the numbers of patients being served; community education; and harm-reduction programs.”
One thing is clear: Rehab programs that can create community-centered programs that prioritize low-income victims of the drug crisis can potentially help more people if they can create programs that meet criteria for the windfall of federal funding and legal settlements.
Either through partnerships with government-approved entities or applying for grants funded by the settlements, private rehab centers may be able to help more addicts, work to rectify inequities within addiction treatment - and benefit from the additional funding.
Join the discussion
Do you have experience with receiving federal funding or settlement money for your drug treatment programs? Do you have ideas you’d like feedback on? Share them with us in the Comments section.