EOHHS, Opioid Settlement Advisory Committee Allocate $20 Million to Support Those Impacted by the Overdose Epidemic

Published on Tuesday, August 09, 2022

CRANSTON, RI - The Opioid Settlement Advisory Committee recently met to allocate the State Fiscal Year 2023 (SFY23) opioid settlement funds. This allocation of $20 million has been approved by Rhode Island Executive Office of Health & Human Services’ (EOHHS’s) Acting Secretary Ana Novais. EOHHS will soon steward these recommendations through the State’s procurement process.

“This is an unprecedented time for Rhode Island’s overdose response,” said Governor Dan McKee. “We simultaneously have a worsening crisis that requires our significant response – but thankfully, now more resources than ever before to help our communities. In 2021, we lost 436 of our Rhode Island neighbors, family members, friends, and colleagues to accidental drug overdoses. In 2022, we have already lost at least another 87 members of our community. Investing these settlement funds quickly and effectively in meaningful interventions to prevent overdoses is a top priority of my administration. I would also like to acknowledge Attorney General Peter Neronha for his work in securing the settlements, my partners in the General Assembly for their support of this committee, and EOHHS and their partner agencies for moving forward these proposals.” 

“EOHHS is ready to act immediately to get these dollars into the community to save lives,” said Acting EOHHS Secretary Ana Novais. “I want to thank each Advisory Committee member for their service to Rhode Island. Making decisions about such a significant financial investment in our overdose response effort is both an exciting opportunity and an incredible responsibility with its own unique challenges. This committee made tough choices in a short time frame with our shared goal in mind of putting funds to work to improve the quality of life for our fellow Rhode Islanders.” 

To finalize the recommendations, the committee, working with State staff: 

1.  Utilized the evidence base, where applicable, in review of community feedback 

2.  Reviewed recently enacted budget items and ongoing cross-agency funding needs to eliminate   duplication; and 

3.  Assessed opportunities to partner across government to maximize the leveraging of funds. 

“This Office engaged in years-long litigation against numerous opioid manufacturers, distributors, and consultants in courtrooms in Rhode Island and elsewhere for a single purpose: to hold those companies accountable for deceptively peddling highly addictive narcotics to Rhode Islanders and recover as much money as possible to fight the ongoing opioid crisis they caused,” said Attorney Peter F. Neronha. “I am grateful that that the Advisory Committee has begun to allocate the over $140 million this Office delivered to Rhode Island for opioid prevention, treatment, and recovery. This is only the beginning, and I look forward to their continued work to allocate these funds in the most effective way possible.”

These funding priorities represent community-identified needs by the Overdose Evidence Update focus areas and are inclusive of evidence-based interventions, chronic funding gaps, and de-duplicated efforts by aligning across state agencies. (see image below)

“I’m pleased that the Opioid Settlement Advisory Committee and EOHHS staff came together so quickly to apply our collective expertise to generate recommendations that reflect the urgency that this overdose epidemic commands, while centering the local knowledge generated by the Governor’s Overdose Task Force and other stakeholders in this work. Holding firm to our commitment to racial equity, the OSAC will continue to work with state agencies and community partners to ensure that SFY2023 and future funds are strategically applied to save lives and prevent overdoses, consistent with our guiding principles,” said Carrie Bridges Feliz, chair of the Opioid Settlement Advisory Committee.

These recommendations have been selected using the five principles created by Johns Hopkins University for the disbursement of opioid settlement dollars and the 6th principle below, added by Rhode Island Advisory Committee members:

1.      Spend money to save lives

2.      Use evidence to guide spending

3.      Invest in youth prevention

4.      Focus on racial equity

5.      Develop a fair and transparent process for funding recommendations

6.      Consider future sustainability in all recommendations

“My family has been personally impacted by the overdose crisis,” said Committee Member Ernesto Figueroa. “My daughter is currently struggling with substance use. Her use has affected my whole family. My grandson is unable to be in her care and I am currently his primary caretaker. My family’s story is sadly not unique – so many Rhode Island families have had their lives disrupted by this endemic. I am so glad these funds will go to work ASAP to help Rhode Islanders – they are needed.” 

For more information on the Opioid Settlement Advisory Committee, please visit: https://eohhs.ri.gov/Opioid-Settlement-Advisory-Committee.


Opioid settlement funding