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Sean D. Reyes
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Legislature Hears Goals for Opioid Settlement Funds

SALT LAKE CITY — Today, members of the Utah Opioid Task Force, Opioid Settlement Advisory Committee, outlined a list of priorities for the use of anticipated opioid settlement money at a joint legislative Health and Human Services subcommittee appropriations hearing.

During the presentation, policymakers and stakeholders alike received guidance on how to leverage opioid settlement funds, using an Opioid Settlement Blueprint and providing copies of the Opioid Settlement Blueprint Executive Summary.

Among the immediate Strategic Priorities Recommended at this early stage are:

·         Establish CORE PRINCIPLES in legislation to provide a framework that ensures funds are spent in ways that save and improve lives.

·         Determine an entity to oversee and manage funding; establish administrative cost limits.

·         Establish an advisory group.

·         Establish a structured process for allocation of funds based on the core principles.

·         Establish parameters around project priorities and selection processes based on community assessments and resources.

·         Establish reporting and outcome measurements required for transparency and compliance with settlements.

Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes: “Any opioid settlement money that comes to the state of Utah needs to be, first and foremost, devoted to expanding education, treatment, recovery, prevention, and abatement.” Said Attorney General Reyes. We recognize no amount of money will undo the devasting harm wrought by opioids on our communities, including the loss of families, dignity, jobs and far too many Utah lives. All the money in the settlement is not enough to compensate for even one life lost. But the work of my office and the Opioid Task Force is to empower those currently caught in the cycle of addiction and prevent generations of future lives lost.”

Lt. Governor Deidre M. Hendersen: “The impact of the opioid epidemic in Utah has been profound. An astonishing 43% of Utahns have lost a friend or family member as a result. The Opioid Settlement Advisory Committee was formed to take a holistic approach to address this crisis. Our blueprint will serve as a guide for state and local decision-makers to use as they determine where to allocate resources and how to spend settlement dollars in the most effective and meaningful way possible.”

Margaret Busse, Executive Director, Utah Department of Commerce: “The Opioid epidemic has eroded trust in many healthcare professions given the many suffering patients are dependent on harmful drugs. This task force will ensure settlement funds are used in the best way to work toward a positive resolution of this awful crisis we’ve found ourselves in.”

Dr. Jennifer Plumb, Utah Opioid Settlement Advisory Committee Chair: “This is an unprecedented opportunity to invest in solutions to address the needs of people impacted by opioids and substance use disorders. It is important we use them responsibly” 

Tom Ross, CCJJ: “We have the unprecedented opportunity to improve outcomes in the lives of so many who suffer from opioid addiction and substance use. It is only right that those who have paid the heaviest price now be given the opportunity to receive the help they need to get their lives back on track.  Now is the time to come together and give those suffering opioid and substance use addiction the opportunity to change the trajectory of their lives and, by doing so, improve substance use outcomes for generations to come.”