State attorneys general vowed that opioid settlement funds — unlike the tobacco settlement of the 1990s — would go toward tackling the underlying crisis. But in Mendocino County, officials have found a way to use some of its share to help fill a budget shortfall — a throwback to what agreement architects hoped to avoid.
As settlement dollars land at the state level, state councils wield significant power in determining how the windfall gets spent. And, though they will likely include the most knowledgeable voices on addiction, these panels also face concerns about conflicts of interest and other issues.
States and localities are receiving more than $54 billion over nearly two decades.
Algunos estados, como Carolina del Norte y Colorado, han publicado en internet los detalles de su distribución. Pero en la mayoría de los lugares es complicado.
You can use documents obtained by KFF Health News to see the exact dollar amounts that local governments in your state have been allocated in 2022 and 2023.
KFF Health News obtained documents showing the exact dollar amounts — down to the cent — that local governments have been allocated in 2022 and 2023 to battle the ongoing opioid crisis.
Greene County, Tennessee, so far has received more than $2.7 million from regional and national settlements with opioid manufacturers and distributors. But most of the money is not going to help people and families harmed by addiction.
Billions of dollars are headed to state and local governments to address the opioid crisis. Policy experts and advocates expect the federal government to play a role in overseeing the use of the money. Failure to do so, they say, could lead to wasted opportunities. And, since Medicaid helps pay health care costs, the feds could have a claim to portions of states’ opioid settlements.
La mayoría de los acuerdos estipulan que los estados deben gastar al menos el 85% del dinero que recibirán, en los próximos 15 años, en el tratamiento y la prevención de adicciones.
Spending the money effectively and equitably is a tall order for state and local governments, and a lack of transparency in the process is already leading to fears of misuse.
KFF Health News’ recent investigation offers a great opportunity for reporters to investigate an important issue of government accountability from a state or local angle.
When Penelope Wingard’s cancer went into remission, she lost her Medicaid coverage in North Carolina. Without insurance, the debts piled up for her follow-up care. She doesn’t think she’ll ever get ahead of it.
Emergency room care left Samaria Bradford with $5,000 in medical bills. Now she has to track down and pay that debt before she can hope to enlist in the military.
Some people say it’s reasonable for densely populated areas to receive more settlement funds, since they serve more of those affected. But others worry this overlooks rural communities disproportionately harmed by opioid addiction.
The cash represents an unprecedented opportunity to derail the opioid epidemic, but with countless groups advocating for their share of the pie, the impact could depend heavily on geography and politics.
Hospitals strike deals with financing companies, generating profits for lenders, and more debt for patients.
Penny Wingard, 58, of Charlotte, North Carolina, worries she won’t ever get out from under her medical debt despite new policies that are supposed to prevent medical debt from harming people’s credit scores.
New policies to prevent unpaid medical bills from harming people’s credit scores are on the way. But the concessions made by top credit reporting companies may fall short for those with the largest debt — especially Black Americans in the South.
The July launch of the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline was celebrated by many mental health providers and advocates, but it triggered concerns, too, from people who say using the service could lead to increased law enforcement involvement or forced hospitalization.
Medical debt is most prevalent in the Southeast, where states have not expanded Medicaid and have few consumer protection laws. Now, North Carolina is considering two bills that could change that, making the state a leader in protecting patients from high medical bills.