In 2022, Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced a $26 billion national settlement with Cardinal Health, McKesson, AmerisourceBergen (3 major pharmaceutical distributors in the U.S.) and Johnson & Johnson for the large part they played in creating and continuing the opioid epidemic. Kentucky will receive $478.1 million of that $26 billion. Those pay outs began in installments to counties in December, 2022 and will continue through the year 2038.
Kentucky Association of Counties (KACo) has been working to make sure that each county receives a fair share of the settlement dollars to support recovery services and addiction treatment. Each county received 2 payments in December from the distributor’s settlement and will continue to receive a payment each year from 2023 through 2038. Each county received the first 5 payments upfront from the J&J settlement in December and will continue to receive payments each year from 2026 through 2031.
Additional Settlements Announced
It was announced on Friday, January 27th that Kentucky will receive additional settlements of: $94 million from CVS over ten years, more than $102 million from Walgreens over the next 15 years, more than $71 million in the next 13 years from Teva, more than $42 million over 7 years from Allergan and more than $53 million from Walmart, with most of that funding scheduled to be distributed in 2023; Totaling over $362 million.
Judge Roberts on Hancock County’s Settlement Monies
“We’ve received $46,266 in 2022,” Judge/Executive Johnny Roberts said. “This will go through 2038 and we’ll have a total allocation of $229,311. We have not spent any of it because we’re waiting on (guidance). We’re not going to spend any of the money until we are 100% sure that we can.” There is some guidance on how the money can be used but before announcing any solid plans, the fiscal court is seeking further direction from County Attorney Paul Madden, Jr.
They were given 29 bulleted points of what the allowable expenses are for the settlement monies but it isn’t a comprehensive list and they are in the process of researching the best ways to spend it that will deliver the best services to Hancock County and its citizens. “The good news is there’s money to help with this situation,” Judge Roberts said. “There’s a lot of counties that have a lot more trouble than what we have but certainly we have some. These funds can be used to help those folks trying to transition and recover from some of this.”
Settlement Dollars & How They Can Be Used
According to the terms of the settlements and KRS 15.291 and 15.293, the funds may only be used for very specific purposes, such as: reimbursement for costs related to outpatient & residential treatment services including services provided to incarcerated individuals, medication assisted treatment, abstinence based treatment, recovery or other services provided by community health centers or non profit providers; emergency response services provided by law enforcement or first responders or any portion of cost of administering an opioid antagonist or provide funding for any project which: supports intervention, treatment & recovery services provided to persons with OUD or co-occurring SUD/MH issues or who have experienced an opioid overdose; detoxification services including medical detoxification, referral to treatment or connections to other services; opioid abatement related housing including supportive housing or recovery housing; transportation to treatment or recovery programs; employment training or educational services for individuals in treatment; call centers that provide information and connections to appropriate services; crisis stabilization centers; scholarships and support for addiction counselors and other mental and behavioral health providers including training scholarships, fellowships, loan repayment programs or incentives for providers to work in rural or underserved areas of KY; training on medication assisted treatment for health care providers, students or other supporting professionals; efforts to prevent over prescribing and ensure appropriate prescribing and dispensing of opioids; enhancements or improvements consistent with state law for prescription drug monitoring programs; the education of law enforcement or other first responders regarding appropriate practices and precautions when dealing with opioids or individuals; opioid related emergency response services provided by law enforcement or first responders; treatment of mental health trauma issues resulting from the traumatic experiences of opioid users or their family members; nonprofits, the faith community and community coalitions to support prevention and treatment and to support family members in their effort to care for opioid users in their family; and evidence-informed treatment, recovery support, harm reduction or other appropriate services to individuals with OUD and any co-occurring SUD/MH issues who are incarcerated, leaving jail or prison, have recently left jail or prison, are on probation or parole, are under community corrections supervision or are in reentry programs or facilities. (Note: for a full list, please visit the KACo website: www.kaco.org)
Judge Roberts added that, “We have 2022’s allotment of it. We have $46,000 of those monies now and in 2023 Hancock County receives another $8,001, in 2024 -$10,015, in 2025 -$10,015 and so on, to a total of $229,311. I will wait for guidance from Paul and then maybe get a committee together. That’s what I’ve talked to him about. He sees so many of these cases. We need to get some folks together – the people who know – and (discuss) what is the best way to use this money. Paul sees how they come through the court and what folks struggle with the most. I’ve asked him to look at it (KACO list) to get some guidance from folks around the state and see the best way to use the money. We’re waiting for firm clarification.”
To learn more about this settlement and the goal of building “Stronger Counties and a Stronger Kentucky” please visit: www.kaco.org.
By Jennifer Wimmer