Model Law Would Help States Avoid Missed Opportunities of Past Tobacco Settlements
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) announced the release of a model law for state legislatures that would help ensure opioid litigation settlement funds are directed to addressing addiction and the overdose epidemic in impacted communities and with public accountability.
ONDCP funded the research and development for the Model Opioid Litigation Proceeds Act, which was prepared by the Legislative Analysis and Policy Association (LAPPA), in collaboration with the O’Neill Institute at Georgetown Law Center, the Center for U.S. Policy, and Brown and Weinraub, and with the input of subject matter experts and peer reviewers through ONDCP’s Model Acts Program. The announcement of the model legislation comes on the heels of the ONDCP-hosted convening that brought together more than 300 State, local, and Tribal leaders from all 50 States where government officials, researchers, and experts discussed how governments can use evidence and data to guide decisions about how funds from opioid litigation can be spent to address addiction and the overdose epidemic, while advancing equity.
Through the model law’s provisions, states would:
- Establish a dedicated Fund separate from the state’s general treasury fund that is designated for targeted purposes;
- Ensure that proceeds deposited into the Fund remain separate from the state treasury’s general fund; do not lapse or revert to the general fund; and are not subject to fiscal year limitations; and are used only as intended for infrastructure, programs, services, supports, and resources for substance use disorder prevention, treatment, recovery, and harm reduction;
- Ensure distributions from the Fund supplement, and not supplant or replace, any existing or future local, state, or federal government funding for such infrastructure, programs, services, supports, and resources, including, but not limited to, insurance benefits, federal grant funding, and Medicaid and Medicare funds;
- Ensure that a council of diverse stakeholders be established to ensure robust and informed public involvement, accountability, and transparency in allocating and accounting for the monies in the Fund.
Read the model law and accompanying research here.
The release of this model law comes at a critical time when overdose deaths have reached a record high. In August, ONDCP announced $2.5 million to support LAPPA’s establishment of state-level model legislation that advances efforts to expand access to evidence-based harm reduction services, as well as promote equity in access to treatment and drug enforcement efforts for underserved communities. Previously through this initiative, states have introduced the Model Fatality Reviews Act, a LAPPA model law that would establish county-level multidisciplinary overdose fatality review that can be used to identify and respond to overdose deaths; and the Model Overdose Mapping (ODMAP) and Response Act, a LAPPA model law that would establish a system to track overdose incident reporting and improve public health and public safety responses.
Background on Administration actions on addiction and the overdose epidemic:
In its first-year drug policy priorities, the Biden-Harris Administration outlined a strategy that includes expanding access to evidence-based prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and recovery support services, as well reducing the supply of illicit drugs. Since January, the Office of National Drug Control Policy has worked with other agencies across the government to advance President Biden’s drug policy priorities. Among the actions taken in the first eight months of the Biden-Harris Administration are:
- The American Rescue Plan invested nearly $4 billion to allow the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and Health Resources and Services Administration to expand access to vital mental health and substance use disorder services. The funding also included $30 million in supports for harm reduction services—a historic amount that will enhance interventions like syringe services programs.
- HHS released the Practice Guidelines for the Administration of Buprenorphine for Treating Opioid Use Disorder, which exempt eligible health care providers from Federal certification requirements related to training, counseling and other ancillary services that are part of the process for obtaining a waiver to treat up to 30 patients with buprenorphine. This action expands access to evidence-based treatment by removing a critical barrier to buprenorphine prescribing.
- DEA lifted a decade-long moratorium on opioid treatment programs that want to include a mobile component. This rule change will help provide treatment to rural and other underserved communities, including incarcerated individuals.
- CDC and SAMHSA announced that Federal funding may now be used to purchase fentanyl test strips in an effort to help curb the dramatic spike in drug overdose deaths.
- ONDCP designated six new counties as part of its High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program. These counties, located in states like California, Illinois, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania, will receive support for regional law enforcement efforts to disrupt and dismantle drug trafficking organizations.
- ONDCP provided funding for the nationwide expansion of the HIDTA Overdose Response Strategy to all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia. The Strategy brings together drug intelligence officers and public health analysts at the local and regional level to share information and develop evidence-based intervention and support services that reduce overdoses.
- ONDCP provided funding to support the establishment of state-level model legislation that advances efforts to expand access to harm reduction services, as well as promote equity in access to treatment and drug enforcement efforts for underserved communities.
- ONDCP hosted more than 300 State, local, and Tribal leaders from all 50 States, Washington, D.C., American Samoa, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Northern Mariana Islands for a virtual convening entitled “Opioid Litigation Settlement: Using Evidence to Lead Action.” At the convening, government officials, researchers, and experts discussed how State, local, and Tribal governments can use evidence and data to guide decisions about how funds from opioid litigation can be spent to address addiction and the overdose epidemic, while advancing equity.
- ONDCP, HHS, and DOJ presented to Congress the Biden-Harris Administration’s recommendations for a long-term, consensus approach to reduce the supply and availability of illicitly manufactured fentanyl-related substances (FRS), while protecting civil rights and reducing barriers to scientific research for all Schedule I substances.
- ONDCP announced $13.2 million in grants for 106 Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Support Programs across the country working to prevent youth substance use, including prescription drugs, marijuana, tobacco, and alcohol. In June, ONDCP announced $3.2 million for 65 communities nationwide for its Community-Based Coalition Enhancement Grants to Address Local Drug Crisis Program to reduce youth substance use.
In addition to these actions, the President’s FY22 budget request calls for $20.6 billion, including more than $500 million to expand research, prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and recovery support services, with targeted investments to meet the needs of populations at greatest risk for overdose and substance use disorder.
The FY22 budget request also includes significant investments in reducing the supply of illicit substances. In particular, it includes important increases in interdiction efforts, which include air and maritime activities to seize drugs in transit and deter access to routes, enhancements of source nations’ ability to interdict drugs, and efforts along the United States border to interdict the flow of drugs. The FY22 request also continues to support efforts to strengthen source country programs that address drug trafficking and corruption, strengthen the rule of law and anti-corruption activities, promote human rights, and support development programs.