With enormous cash settlements on the horizon over lawsuits against opioid manufacturers and distributors, New York must not repeat what it did with the first round of money and instead use the resources to fight the drug epidemic.
As part of a $573 million settlement earlier this year over the promotion of pharmaceutical painkillers across the country, New York received $32 million that should have gone toward addressing the crisis. But somewhere along the line during state budget negotiations, it was decided that the bulk of that money would simply be put into the state’s general fund. Some state lawmakers are working to prevent that from happening again.
State Sen. Peter Oberacker and other members of the Senate Republican Conference this week threw their support behind a proposal to ensure that any future opioid settlement funds be put into a “lockbox” dedicated to improving and expanding addiction treatment and recovery services.
“It is unconscionable that funds meant for opioid prevention, education, and treatment could be siphoned away to pay for unrelated pet projects,” Oberacker said in a news release. “New York state must ensure that opioid settlement funds are restricted and used for their intended purpose – saving lives.”
We couldn’t agree more. The flood of painkillers that resulted in a spike of drug addiction across the country was fueled by greed, but even as those responsible are now being held accountable, the problems they caused have not gone away.
Auburn and Cayuga County were by no means left unscathed by the free-flow of painkillers, and many families have been forever changed by the death and addiction the opioid crisis helped cause.
The state must not let those families down again, and any future opioid settlement funds must be used for treatment and recovery services. Cutting back on the flow of pharmaceuticals has helped, but the drug problem has not gone away and it requires an investment by the state to help solve.