Proposal centralizes tracking of $1.08 billion opioid fund



(The Center Square) — County governments will spend the majority of the $1.08 billion in Pennsylvania’s opioid trust. How that spending gets tracked and accounted for is likewise dispersed.

A proposed bill, however, would require the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs to publish an annual report on how counties and local governments spend the money.

House Bill 1694, sponsored by Rep. Andrew Kuzma, R-Pleasant Hills, aggregates the reports filed to the Pennsylvania Opioid Misuse and Addiction Abatement Trust to give a broad overview.

“By reviewing how counties and local governments are putting their opioid settlement funds to use, the annual report will be useful in informing the General Assembly how to best allocate the Commonwealth’s share of these dollars,” Kuzma wrote in a legislative memo.

The bill specifies that the report must also include “The amount and a description of any expenditure of money found to be noncompliant with the requirements of a qualified opioid settlement.”

Pennsylvania counties will receive 70% of the opioid trust’s funds, 15% will be spent by the General Assembly, and 15% will go to local governments involved in the opioid litigation, as The Center Square previously reported. But not all states follow that pattern, data aggregated by the Opioid Settlement Tracker shows.

Ohio, for example, will also spend 15% on the state level, but only 30% will go to local governments — 55% will go into the OneOhio Recovery Foundation to spend the money. West Virginia will put 72.5% of its funds into the West Virginia First Foundation to direct spending.

Many counties have already announced how some opioid money will be spent. Blair County will spend $20,000 on equipment at the county prison for medication-assisted treatment to deal with opioid addiction. Northumberland County will use money to support its “warm handoff” program for people leaving hospital or prison who have addiction issues.

Experts have suggested putting the 15% controlled by the General Assembly into boosting salaries for counselors, while Rep. Jim Gregory, R-Hollidaysburg, has proposed a bill to create a grant program to support recovery services statewide.

The money will be sent out to counties over an 18-year period.



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