Addiction Services Says Opioid Regulation Bill Improves Flexibility – WISH-TV | Indianapolis News | Indiana Weather forecast


PLAINFIELD, Ind. (WISH) — Addiction treatment advocates said Friday they hope some cities will reconsider plans to opt out of the opioid bylaw.

Indiana is supposed to receive up to $507 million from the $26 billion settlement with opioid manufacturers reached last summer. State lawmakers approved legislation that would send 70% of the total to state coffers for the sole purpose of funding opioid addiction treatment and prevention programs. A number of Indiana cities have since pulled out of the deal, instead pursuing their own lawsuits. This reduced the money Indiana could receive from the settlement.

On Wednesday, in an effort to bring those cities back into the fold, the Indiana House unanimously approved a fix. Under the bill, 35% of the settlement money would go to cities, towns and counties to fund their treatment programs.

The decision emboldened advocates, including Brandon George, director of the Indiana Addiction Issues Coalition. He said grants are the primary source of funding for addiction treatment programs in Indiana, and organizations that provide such services must reapply for grants each year. George said the settlement money will provide a steady stream of funding for about 10 to 15 years.

“This bill really seems to help put cities, towns, and municipalities back at the table,” he said, “which will ensure that Indiana can get as much money out of the settlement as possible, and this is by far the number one concern.

Natasha Newcomb, deputy chief of addiction services for Hamilton Center, said her social workers are seeing more people with opioid addictions than ever before. She said Hamilton Center provides services in 11 counties, including an opioid program in Plainfield, and each of those counties has a different set of needs.

“Maybe they need more outpatient addiction treatment in this county, (so) we will work to get a provider to be able to provide that service,” she said. “We really work to be a support for the communities we serve. If they have an identified need, we do what we can to fill that need.

Newcomb said giving local authorities greater access to settlement money is a smart move because local authorities know where the service gaps are and which areas have been hardest hit. She said letting those officials back into the settlement means her organization could afford to launch more programs.

George said the key to any legislation related to opioid regulation is to make sure the money goes to opioid addiction services. He said advocates want to avoid a repeat of the 1998 Tobacco Framework Settlement Agreement. Funding from that agreement was supposed to cover prevention and smoking cessation programs, but in many cases it has been allocated to other uses, such as economic redevelopment in areas historically dependent on tobacco. George said the House-approved bill would keep settlement money focused on addiction services. He said he hoped the Senate would keep it that way.


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