Dose of Reality: Opioid Settlement Funds
Our work on the National Prescription Opiate Litigation
On February 25, 2022, the Wisconsin Department of Justice announced final approval of an agreement with the nation’s three major pharmaceutical distributors (Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen) and Johnson & Johnson. Payments from the distributors will continue for 18 years. Payments from Johnson & Johnson will continue for nine years.
Wisconsin is due to receive more than $400 million in total funding. 2021 Wisconsin Act 57 requires that the 87 local governments that participated in this litigation receive 70 percent of the funds, with the state receiving 30 percent of the funds. This means that the local governments will share $280 million and the state will receive $120 million, as well as $9.6 million in additional restitution
We are managing the distribution of the state funds. We are required to submit a plan to the Joint Committee on Finance every year with details on the projects we intend to support with the funding we expect to receive for the year.
We expect to receive $8 million in opioid settlement payments in 2023, with the payments expected to arrive in June and July. We submitted our plan for this funding to the Joint Committee on Finance March 29. View the plan (PDF).
We received about $31 million in opioid settlement payments in 2022, with all of the payments arriving in the second half of the year.
The plan approved by the Joint Committee on Finance directed us to:
- Support school-based prevention programs. $250,000 for school districts, independent charter schools, and private choice schools to implement evidence-based substance use prevention programming. STATUS: This funding has been awarded to the Department of Public Instruction to issue grants for this work. A request for applications is due to be released this spring.
- Support after-school prevention programs. $750,000 for a community organization that serves youth to work with local law enforcement agencies to reduce opioid use. STATUS: A request for applications for this funding was issued earlier this year. The applications are being reviewed.
- Expand the NARCAN® Direct Program and establish a program to distribute fentanyl test strips. $5 million to purchase NARCAN and fentanyl test strips for community agencies with priority given to law enforcement agencies and first responders. STATUS: A portion of this funding ($750,000) was used to purchase NARCAN® for 135 law enforcement agencies. A portion of this funding ($285,000) was used to purchase NARCAN® for 23 organizations, including county agencies, opioid treatment programs, syringe services programs, and recovery community agencies. A portion of this funding ($300,000) was used to purchase fentanyl test strips for 25 opioid treatment programs. A portion of this funding ($870,000) is supporting leave behind programs for emergency medical services providers. Applications for this part of this funding are due April 3, 2023. A portion of this funding ($2,000,000) is supporting a public health vending machine program. Applications for this part of this funding are due April 21, 2023.
- Support medication-assisted treatment. $2 million to increase access to all forms of medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder. STATUS: A request for applications for this funding was issued earlier this year. The applications are being reviewed.
- Expand the hub-and-spoke health home pilot program. $1 million to facilitate the creation of additional lead agencies (hubs) that provide specialized substance use disorder treatment and support services in partnership with community partners (spokes). STATUS: A request for applications for this funding is expected to be released this spring.
- Support room and board costs for Medicaid members in residential substance use disorder treatment. $2.5 million in financial assistance to Medicaid members to support access to this benefit. Federal law prohibits Medicaid from reimbursing residential substance use disorder treatment providers for a client’s room and board expenses. Lack of funds to cover room and board costs is the primary reason Medicaid members do not enroll in this level of treatment. STATUS: All tribal nations and counties were invited to apply for this funding. The applications are being reviewed.
- Support renovations or construction of care and treatment facilities. $10 million to renovate existing facilities or construct new facilities to provide prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and recovery services with a focus on expanding the number of beds available for inpatient treatment and pregnant and postpartum people with an opioid use disorder. STATUS: A request for applications for this funding was issued earlier this year. The applications are being reviewed.
- Create an overdose alert system. $500,000 to develop and maintain a near real-time overdose surveillance and alert system for use by tribal nations, counties, and other providers statewide. A portion of this funding will support upgrades to Wisconsin's Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. STATUS: Upgrades to the existing overdose alert system are being tested.
- Support tribal nations. $6 million for prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and recovery services for tribal members with the specific services funded determined by each of the 11 federally recognized tribal nations with members in Wisconsin. STATUS: A request for applications for this funding was issued earlier this year. The applications are being reviewed.
- Support law enforcement agencies. $3 million to be distributed to police departments and sheriff's offices through a competitive application process to support community drug disposal programs, programs that keep people with an opioid use disorder out of jail, medication-assisted treatment education and awareness training, and treatment of jail residents with an opioid use disorder. A third of this funding must be allocated to law enforcement agencies serving 70,000 or fewer people. STATUS: Applications for this funding are due May 22, 2023.
We are required to file quarterly reports with the Joint Committee on Finance on our progress investing the opioid settlement funds allocated to us.
State fiscal year 2023