For Immediate Release
July 25, 2022
County Executive Releases Report from Opioid Task Force Outlining Funding Priorities for Opioid Settlements
Application Process for Community Groups, Non-profits, and County Agencies Now Live
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone today announced the first round of grant funding for community groups, non-profits, and county agencies, resulting from the County’s landmark lawsuits against opioid manufactures and distributors. The initial round of funding will comprise of $25 million dollars, and an application link went live today.
Additionally, the County Executive released a guidance document compiled by the opioid settlement task force which outlines short-term and long-term goals.
“After years of incredible progress and work to stem the tide on this epidemic, the pandemic created unprecedented circumstances of fear, isolation, and anxiety that led to an increase in fatal overdoses,” said County Executive Bellone. “While no amount of money can bring back the lives lost to this devastation, thanks to the County’s landmark lawsuits, we now have an new funding to assist our communities and beat back this epidemic that has plagued our region for far too long.”
Presiding Officer Kevin McCaffrey said: “Everyone, including myself knows someone who has been affected by the opioid epidemic. No family, especially those who have lost a loved one, should have to suffer the pain caused by opioid addiction. All the money in the world won’t bring back a loved one. However, this money will help ensure that others may be spared the terrible ordeal brought on by drug addiction.”
Minority Leader Jason Richberg said: “As we all know, the opioid epidemic has ravaged communities across our country in recent years- and Suffolk County has felt the effects. The news of these settlements and the funds they bring are a win for our residents and for the future of Suffolk. This money will allow us as legislators to be more creative with how we address issues of drug abuse, and get it into the hands of our incredible non-profit agencies and first responders that are on the front lines of the fight. I’d like to thank everyone on the Opioid Settlement Task Force for all of their work finding the best ways these funds can be spent and helping ensure that countless Suffolk County residents will have the opportunity to change their lives for the better.”
Legislator Sarah Anker said: “Suffolk County has led the nation in addressing the opioid epidemic. Thanks to our proactive lawsuit against the shameful pharmaceutical companies that fueled the this crisis, we will have much needed funding for our residents who have been affected by the addiction epidemic.”
Legislator Bridget Fleming said: “I am grateful to have participated in the hard work of the Opioid Settlement Taskforce, which was assembled as a result of Suffolk County’s landmark lawsuits against opioid manufacturers and distributers, and I am pleased that County Executive Steve Bellone is moving forward to provide funding for community groups and agencies affected by the opioid crisis. I am hopeful that this important next step will restore justice for many families and applicants, giving back critically important resources where it matters most.”
The application process is open to any entity, including non-profits, healthcare systems, and public and private agencies, that provide services in relation to the opioid epidemic, including, prevention, education, treatment, and recovery. Agencies can submit proposals to address the opioid crisis through the expansion of existing programs, the establishment of new programs, as well as proposals that encourage innovation.
A selection panel, comprised of the County Executive, the Presiding Officer, the Minority Leader, and the Health Commissioner, or their designees, along with a victim advocate, will review the applications in conjunction with substance use disorder experts at the Health Department.
Last year, County Executive Bellone convened an intra-agency committee tasked with developing priorities related to the settlement agreements the County is receiving from opioid distributors, manufactures and pharmacies. The Committee has engaged with key stakeholders within the substance abuse community including non-profit service providers with expert-level experience in harm reduction, prevention, treatment and recovery services. The Committee also met with families of addicts, addicts in recovery, victims’ advocates and other individuals with meaningful experience related to surviving the opioid epidemic.
The guidance document developed by the intra-agency task force outlines the need to focus the settlement dollars in the areas where there are currently the most significant gaps in care and where there is the greatest potential for a positive change in outcomes, including prevention and harm reduction, treatment and recovery.
As evidenced by the struggles faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, the task force recommends utilizing opioid funding to help accelerate the integration of mental health and substance use disorder treatment, along with prioritizing underserved communities, including the east end of Long Island and certain communities of color. The selection committee will utilize the task force’s report as a guidance document when selecting applicants for funding.
Suffolk County was the first county in New York State to sue drug makers in connection with the opioid crisis. The County has since reached settlement agreements with major opioid distributors and major retail pharmacies. These much-needed funds will assist the County in the ongoing battle against the opioid crisis, along with aiding those who have been affected.