PROBLEM: Opioid makers and distributors are finally being taken to court. But we know that past settlements from similar litigation, like the tobacco settlement in the 90s, used dollars irresponsibly.
SOLUTION: Ensure that state lawmakers spend settlement funds to prevent and treat addiction, not to fill state budget gaps for unrelated issues.
These groups are being sued over their role in creating the nation’s deadliest overdose epidemic, a problem that is only getting worse today. When this legal case is settled, the money must be spent specifically on addiction programs that are proven to save lives—not on filling potholes or addressing other budget issues.
When the consolidated lawsuit, called the National Prescription Opiate Litigation, is settled financially, it will be up to the state lawmakers to determine how to allocate funds. In the coming months, it will be our responsibility to ensure states have enacted dedicated funds for these settlement dollars, keeping them out of the state’s general treasury, where they may be misused.
Shatterproof, in partnership with the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, is leading a national coalition to enact the guiding principles for opioid settlement dollars at the state level. We’re working with states to enact legislation that creates a dedicated fund and a reporting mechanism, implements state-wide advisory boards, and ensures the dollars are spent on evidence-based programs for substance use disorder. Legislation has already passed in several states including Kentucky, Nevada, and New York.
Addiction is treatable, but access is limited. Through policy change, substance use disorder treatment can become a part of mainstream medicine.
Federal law says that health insurers must cover behavioral health conditions the same way they do physical ones. But violations are common. State policy change can help.
The addiction crisis is solvable. Change starts with you.