ALBANY, N.Y. (WUTR) – This week Governor Cuomo signed off on legislation to create an opioid settlement fund. Money in the fund is to be specifically used to help prevent and treat substance use disorder.
Just a few weeks ago advocates for a bill to create the fund rallied at the State Capitol for the Governor to sign off on it. And, this week he followed through.
“I think it’s just a really solid framework for making sure that we can direct these monies where they’re going to do the greatest good and we can start to really turn the corner on the disease of addiction, which is really destroying communities across the state,” said Assembly sponsor Carrie Woerner.
The bill passed through the legislature unanimously this session. Woerner notes that State Attorney General Letitia James and her Office have worked to pursue lawsuits against opioid manufacturers and distributors to address the harms that have been caused and to prevent future addictions. The Attorney General praised the signing of the bill.This week her Office also reached a $230 million settlement with Johnson & Johnson. The company also agreed to stop selling opioids in the state.
“A good portion of it is going to go to go directly into the lockbox and will be dedicated to what we called eligible programs,” Woerner said.
Some of those include education, medically assistive treatment, and supportive housing.
“This legislation is saying no, we can’t make the same mistakes we made with the tobacco settlement funds which went for many many purposes other than just addressing the implications of smoking,” said NYASAP Executive Director John Coppola.
The legislation also blocks the state from taking the settlement money from the courts to reduce state or federal funding allocations.