THE OPIOID SETTLEMENT: WORKING TOGETHER “IN WAYS WE DIDN’T SEE BEFORE”
Intergovernmental relations have long been one of the weak spots for places that want to get something done. But collaboration is crucial. In fact, “effective problem-solving requires federal, state, and local governments to work together,” writes Nancy Augustine, director of the Center for Intergovernmental Partnerships at the National Academy of Public Administration in an upcoming Guest Column.
One recent example of a situation in which those relationships functioned admirably could be seen late last week when the National Association of Counties’ Opioid Settlement Summit featured joint panel discussions with representatives from multiple layers of government which demonstrated solid mutual commitment to working together to optimize the distribution of settlement dollars.
One key to this collaborative environment, as NACo officials point out, was baked into the settlements themselves. States could only sign on to the multi-district litigation if they had 90% of the cities and counties within their borders agree to waive their individual lawsuits. Seeing these partnerships happen successfully holds promise not just for a sustained attack on the ongoing opiate crisis, but for better coordinated government action in the future. “We can see how we can work together in ways that we didn’t see before,” Samantha Karon, senior manager for Substance Use Disorder at NACo, and the lead for last week’s summit, told us.
Now, as the $26 billion in settlement dollars is distributed over 18 years, the different jurisdictions that receive funding need to figure out how to use the money for new initiatives, avoiding the temptation to use it to supplant local, state or federal funding that is also targeted at fighting addiction.
For more about the summit, itself, we recommend Kaitlyn Levinson’s January 12 article in Route Fifty, (where we’re senior advisors).
In addition, NACo offers multiple resources in its ongoing Opioid Solutions Center, including, a 50-state summary of opioid settlement allocation models. The center also provides:
Planning tools for administering national opioid settlement funds.
Briefs on high-impact opioid abatement strategies that can be funded with settlement dollars.
Learning programs – both in-person and online – that are geared to county opioid settlement decision makers.
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