City nabs extra $30 million from state opioid settlement

June 30, 2022

Opioid Settlement Advisory Board Meeting #2:

Tuesday’s second meeting of the Opioid Settlement Board was largely process-oriented (By Laws, Group Charter, election of Chair and Vice Chair of the Board) except for the last 50 or so minutes when the agenda moved from process considerations to an attempt to have a discussion regarding how much of the funds remain available to distribute over the next 10 months (the 22-23 budget cycle). As we stated in March, the recently enacted state budget includes some appropriations of Settlement funds. The4se appropriations were agreed upon by both houses of the Legislature during budget negotiations.  Not all of the funds are spoken for, and after speaking with Peggy O’Shea from DOB today who was on hand at yesterday’s meeting to try and explain the current status of various fund accounts, there is still quite a bit of money the Board can make recommendations on for this year.

In the last 50 minutes of what was a 4 hour meeting, some members of the Board objected strenuously to there having already been appropriations of Opioid Settlement dollars although (as you will recall) the funds came into New York State as result of various lawsuits and settlements to include (as an example) settlement money based on various municipalities having taken legal action against the manufacturers and distributors.  So, in this example, some of the money the municipalities won now goes back out to them.  Additionally, the settlement sometimes comes with rules around what it can be spent on, and when it is available to spend (some payments by defendants are being made over time.)

Some Opioid Settlement Board members feel the state has been dishonest and has not given them the opportunity to make recommendations for all of the funds available this year.  All of this is extremely personal for many Board Members as well as anyone who has experienced a loss due to addiction.   But the Board had an opportunity to hear from Peggy O’Shea who was there to brief members on the status of various buckets of resources.  In the end, Peggy never got the chance to do so, partly due to time constraints and an agenda that should have been re-prioritized at the beginning of the meeting, and partly due to the obvious mistrust and anger displayed by some members of the group.

There will be funds coming into the state for the next 18 years, and the current members of the Board will have a three year term, so they have a huge influence on funds going out the door in the near future.  Our message to the Opioid Advisory Board is simple — get to work and move the money.

   City nabs extra $30 million from state opioid settlementBY AMANDA EISENBERG | 06/29/2022 05:14 PM EDT
2021 is shaping up to be New York City’s worst year for opioid-related overdose deaths, in part due to the pandemic, according to advocates and public health experts.
| Patrick Sison/AP Photo

NEW YORK — The city is getting an additional $30 million from a statewide legal settlement with opioid distributors to help people with opioid use disorder and prevent addiction, officials announced Wednesday.

The $286 million in funding is an increase from the initial $256 million announced in April, which will be distributed over an 18-year period. Mayor Eric Adams will distribute $150 million over a five-year period, which will allow two sanctioned supervised consumption centers to extend their syringe exchange hours and for the city to expand its outreach on the streets and within the public hospital system. If he seeks and wins a second term, he’ll dole out another tranche, otherwise the task will fall to his successor.”Too many New Yorkers have suffered from death and addiction and too many families and communities have been torn apart,” Adams said in a statement. “With the funding secured by Attorney General James from Big Pharma, we will address the multiple crises that have stemmed from the opioid epidemic — from harm reduction, to expanded treatment options, to support for families who have lost loved ones to drug overdoses. This money will help us save lives, and I thank Attorney General James for her partnership in fighting to end the opioid crisis and building a healthier and safer New York City.”

The funding announcement came after City Council Member Linda Lee (D-Queens), who chairs the Council’s mental health, addiction, and disabilities committee, pushed the administration to publicly account for how the money will be spent. She said she was “optimistic” about how the administration communicated with the Council and said it was a model for how “oversight doesn’t need to be adversarial.”

“With the previous administration and everything that happened with ThriveNYC, a lot of folks want to ensure that the money that’s coming down the pipelines for these opioid prevention [programs] will actually serve the community,” Lee said in an interview, referencing former city First Lady Chirlane McCray’s troubled mental health initiative under then-mayor Bill de Blasio. “Coming from that nonprofit provider side and having seen how Thrive rolled out on the ground, I want to be vigilant and make sure this money actually goes to the programs. This is why we’ve had conversations with the mayor early on. I’m happy they heard our suggestions and are listening to the community voices.”

Lee’s committee will hold a Council hearing Thursday morning to discuss legislation aimed at tracking the funding and making it available to the public — a feature missing from the de Blasio administration’s $1.5 billion-plus mental health initiative, which prompted widespread outrage from advocates and politicians.2021 is shaping up to be New York City’s worst year for opioid-related overdose deaths, in part due to the pandemic, according to advocates and public health experts. The latest data, which is made available on a time lag, shows that for the third quarter of the year, there were 709 overdose deaths in New York City, compared to 552 overdose deaths during the same period in 2020, according to a a new report from the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

“The third quarter of 2021 had the highest number of overdose deaths in a single quarter compared with any quarter-year on record,” according to the report. “If these trends continue, DOHMH expects the number of overdose deaths in 2021 to exceed those in 2020, which saw the highest number of overdoses in New York City since records began in 2000.”Lee said she’d like to see the strategy eventually pivot to include more prevention services.

“The plan right now is focusing on the treatment,” Lee said. “Once we can stop the bleeding, how can we take two steps back and look at the whole spectrum?”

View this article online.