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State health department proposes spending plan for opioid settlement money

Steve Heap/steheap - stock.adobe.com

Michigan's Department of Health and Human Services published Friday a spending plan for the first part of the state's money from a nationwide settlement with opioid manufacturers and distributors.

The health department wants to put $39.1 million toward treatment, prevention, recovery, and harm-reduction resources.

The proposed spending plan outlines a focus on specific vulnerable populations such as people in jails and prisons, pregnant women, and families with children.

The health department also prioritized equity and data collection as part of this initiative.

Three pharmaceutical distributors and opioid manufacturer Johnson & Johnson will collectively pay Michigan nearly $800 million over 18 years as part of a legal settlement over their role in the epidemic.

Half of the settlement funds will go directly to county and local governments.

The Michigan Association of Counties said local spending plans will be determined based on each community's unique demographics and needs.

"These opioid settlement dollars are going to be a real opportunity to invest in innovative programs ... and kind of further develop and examine the research base in terms of what we know is effective in treating substance-use disorders," said Matthew Hill, the project manager of Washtenaw Health Initiative.

Hill oversees the Opioid Project, a volunteer-run program that is tackling the opioid crisis in Washtenaw County. His organization could receive some of the county's settlement funds.

Amy Dolinky, the technical advisor for opioid settlement funds at the Michigan Association of Counties, said the state should develop sustainable solutions.

"We didn't end up in this crisis overnight, and we know that these dollars aren't going to solve these problems overnight," said Dolinky. "Think long term ... and not only focus on the more acute pieces of treatment and harm reduction, but thinking through how do we prevent this for future generations and how do we create communities that really support recovery."

Priya Vijayakumar started her Newsroom Internship in January 2023. She is interested in science/health reporting and making the facts more accessible to all!
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