Wisconsin Examiner

Legislature Stalls Opioid Settlement Funds. Again

Joint Finance Committee fails to meet deadline to approve state DHS plan.

By , Wisconsin Examiner - Apr 23rd, 2024 07:49 pm

Pills by Tom Varco (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

Pills by Tom Varco (Own work) (CC BY-SA 3.0), via Wikimedia Commons.

A state health department plan to focus on prevention with the next round of funds from a multistate legal settlement with opioid manufacturers and distributors has been blocked by the Legislature’s budget committee.

The Republican leaders of the Joint Finance Committee had a deadline of Friday, April 19, to either let the plan go forward or to object to it under a passive review process, which was written into the 2021 law authorizing the state to accept the annual settlement money.

On Monday the committee leaders disclosed that they had registered an objection to the 2025 settlement funds plan, but there was no statement explaining their reasons. The action was not unexpected, however; the committee’s GOP majority has rewritten the previous two plans submitted by the Department of Health Services (DHS).

Wisconsin expects to receive a total of $750 million over several years from settlements reached in national lawsuits that state and local governments filed against pharmaceutical companies that produced opioid drugs. Roughly 70% of the money will go straight to local governments and 30% to the state.

Wisconsin gets a payment each year under the settlement program, and under legislation enacted in 2021 the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee retains the right to change the state’s plan for each year’s payment.

The state will get $36 million to be distributed from July 1 through June 30, 2025. In rolling out the plan for those funds earlier this month, DHS Secretary-designee Kirsten Johnson said the department hoped to spend $15 million of that on prevention, peer support for people struggling with addiction and support programs for their families.

Johnson said that the latest plan took into account changes the committee has made in the department’s plans for 2023 and 2024.

The 2025 plan includes $1 million to continue supplying law enforcement agencies with Narcan so first responders who were called to aid people experiencing an overdose could act quickly to reverse its effects. Lawmakers added that provision to the DHS plan for 2023.

Budget committee again stalls latest plan for opioid settlement funds was originally published by Wisconsin Examiner.

3 thoughts on “Legislature Stalls Opioid Settlement Funds. Again”

  1. lobk says:

    Really, Legislature?

    After continued Republican mismanagement and holding back our money for needed services to punish us for buying property in Milwaukee, the biggest economic driver for the State, our consideration of a move out of Wisconsin with our retirement dollars is getting closer to becoming a reality!

    Oh, and Milwaukee officials have plenty to answer for as well for their latest money grabs for ridiculous raises and ungodly property assessment increases.

    Frankly, we have reached the breaking point!

  2. Alan Bartelme says:

    Once again, our state is held hostage by 16 members of the legislature (12 of the 16 are Republicans) on the joint finance committee, because they decided to take vacation for the last 9 months of an election year without finishing their work (don’t worry, they still collect their full-time paychecks). You would think that elected officials sought these jobs to help all WI citizens, but as we see in reality, they’re more concerned about keeping their cushy jobs without actually doing anything.

    Things like clean water, opioid addictions, and keeping hospitals open should be easy bipartisan things. However the Republicans prefer to do nothing and let people suffer.

    If you need to know which legislators to blame for this garbage, here’s the list: https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2023/committees/joint/2640

  3. lobk says:

    They are a hardworking, “compassionate” group, aren’t they?
    If I could have gotten the full-time salary + major bennies for minimal part-time work that they are getting, I wouldn’t have retired. Quite the gig!

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