With $50B on the way to state and local governments, advisory councils can influence how those funds are used.
A report from KFF Health News (KFF) shows how states have developed planning committees with varying degrees of authority to decide the fate of opioid remediation funds. With current settlements in the $50B range and others potentially still to come, stakeholder groups are tasked with assessing the most valuable use for the resources. A handful of elements have been considered in establishing these councils with outcomes dependent on the goals and priorities of different states.
Number of members, demographics, scope of power, and percentage of money under the purview of these groups ranges quite a bit. Currently 37 states and the District of Columbia have some form of an advisory council according the the article. Of the states up and running, 14 councils hold ultimate decision-making authority and 24 have advisory powers. The percentage of funds overseen is anywhere from as little as 15 percent in South Carolina to 100 percent in Louisiana, but most states fall somewhere between 50 and 80 percent. Membership totals range from 5 to 39.
The decisions many of these members make does not come without constant observation and sometimes scrutiny as can be seen in Washington, Delaware, Idaho, and Colorado. According to the KFF article, the decisions these bodies make can funnel money in very different directions in terms of what these teams philosophically believe will help:
Recommendations will affect whether opioid settlement funds go, for example, to improve addiction treatment programs and recovery houses or for more narcotics detectives and prisons.
In Maryland the 14-member Opioid Restitution Fund Advisory Council has advisory power over 75 percent of the funds. The data for how Maryland compares to other states can be found on the KFF chart. Additionally, everything including agendas, minutes, meeting recordings, and membership details can all be found on the Maryland council’s website which is hosted by the Opioid Operational Command Center (OOCC).