Assembly Passes Legislation to Create Opioid Settlement Fund

Speaker Carl Heastie, Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Committee Chair Phil Steck and Assemblymember Carrie Woerner today announced that the Assembly passed legislation to create the Opioid Settlement Fund, which will ensure that funding obtained from settlements involving opioid manufacturers, distributors and other entities involved in perpetuating the opioid crisis are used to combat substance use disorders, co-occurring disorders and mitigate other effects of the opioid epidemic (A.6395-B, Woerner).

“The opioid epidemic has had a devastating effect on so many families and communities across New York State,” Speaker Heastie said. “This fund will give New York State the ability to put settlements from those who perpetuated and contributed to the opioid epidemic to work helping those who struggle with its effects and with substance use disorders and co-occurring disorders.”

“The Assembly Majority is committed to getting New Yorkers struggling with addiction the treatments and services they need,” Assemblymember Steck said. “Our communities and families have been ravaged by the opioid epidemic. By creating the Opioid Settlement Fund, we will ensure the money from these settlements goes to programs and services that provide support for prevention programs and those who are struggling with substance use disorders and co-occurring disorders. ”

“Too many lives have been devastated because of the disease of addiction. Too many parents have lost children to the disease of opioid addiction. By creating the Opioid Settlement Fund, and establishing a statewide board of experts to recommend programs to invest in, the Legislature will ensure that funds recovered by New York from the manufacturers of these harmful drugs are invested in effective services to prevent addiction, reduce harm from addiction, and sustain people in recovery,” Assemblymember Woerner said. “We will keep working to help New Yorkers that are living with addiction and substance use disorders, and ensure they have the tools and resources they need.”

The legislation will create the Opioid Settlement Fund, which will consist of all the future settlement funds that New York State receives from various legal actions against those that helped create the current opioid epidemic. This fund will be used to assist the state in combating substance use disorders, including substance use disorder prevention, treatment and recovery programs; treatment programs for co-occurring mental illnesses; and public education campaigns to combat the ongoing epidemic.

The legislation also creates an advisory board that will provide recommendations to the Legislature on programs and services that should be added or removed from the list of eligible expenditures. The commissioners of the Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS), the Office of Mental Health (OMH), the Department of Health (DOH) and Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) will also be required to send detailed reports to the Legislature of how the funding is spent and the effectiveness of the programs and services supported by the fund. Additionally, the bill will ensure that no future funding will be used to supplant or replace any current state or federal funds that would be used for substance use disorder prevention, treatment or recovery services. 

The opioid epidemic has had a devastating impact on the lives of New Yorkers, and families across the country. In New York State, between 2010 and 2017, opioid overdose deaths increased by 200 percent, from 1,074 to 3,224. And in 2017 alone, there were 12,378 visits to emergency departments due to an opioid overdose.