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 we receive 30 percent of the total allotment of opioid settlement funds while counties and municipalities that participated in the litigation receive the remaining 70 percent.
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. We are developing a plan for this funding. This plan will be based on input received through a survey open to the public from January 26, 2023, through February 17, 2023.
Our initial April 1, 2022, proposal was objected by the Joint Committee on Finance because of the unknown amount and timing of the payments. When more details became available, we submitted a revised report to the Joint Committee on Finance on July 28, 2022 (PDF). On September 8, 2022, the Joint Committee on Finance approved a modified version of our plan for the funds received in 2022.
We received close to $31 million in opioid settlement payments in 2022.
- $6 million in August
- $7.6 million in October
- $17 million in December
Our plan for this funding was based on input gathered through listening sessions and an online survey. We published a report on the feedback we received: The Opioid Epidemic: You Spoke, We Listened, P-03211 (PDF).
2022 approved plan
The plan approved by the Joint Committee on Finance directs us to use the approximately $31 million we received in 2022 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 community-based prevention programs. $750,000 for a community organization that serves after-school 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. $3 million to purchase NARCAN® for community agencies. STATUS: A portion of this funding ($750,000) was used to purchase NARCAN® for 135 law enforcement agencies. Learn more about the NARCAN® Direct Program. A portion of this funding 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 is supporting a public health vending machine program. Applications for this part of this funding are due April 21, 2023.
- Establish and fund a program to distribute fentanyl test strips. $2 million to provide free fentanyl test strips to community agencies for free distribution in their area with priority given to law enforcement agencies and first responders. STATUS: A portion of this funding ($300,000) was used to purchase fentanyl test strips for 25 opioid treatment programs.
- Support medication-assisted treatment. $2 million to increase access to all forms of medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder. STATUS: No report at this time.
- 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. Learn more about the hub-and-spoke health home pilot program.
- 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 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: No report at this time.
- 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: A request for applications for this funding will issued this spring.
We are required to file quarterly reports with the Joint Committee on Finance on our progress investing the opioid settlement funds allocated to us.
Quarter 4, 2022, report (filed December 30, 2022)