Looking for ways to get involved in state and local decisions?
November 22, 2022
State and local advocates have a critical role to play in making sure that their communities are using the money from the opioid litigation in ways that are consistent with the Principles for the Use of Funds from the Opioid Litigation. To help guide advocates, the Hopkins School of Public Health and Vital Strategies have compiled an overview that outlines the new funding available from the opioid litigation and ways that advocates can expand on existing efforts and help make sure that the funds are used in ways to save the most lives and supplement existing work.
Given the significant variation across states, advocates should first understand the rules around how the money can be used in their state and community. Various websites (including opiodsettlementracker.com and nashp.org) have compiled the details, including:
- How the money will be divided between states and local communities;
- Approved uses for the money;
- How decisions will be made around the money, and who will make them.
Advocates should familiarize themselves with the process in their jurisdiction(s) in order to identify how best to get involved.
Second, advocates should determine how their state and community plans align with national-recognized best practices. To help with this, advocates can use a set of Ten Indicators that have been drawn from the Principles. Should the jurisdiction fall short in any of the areas, advocates can press their elected officials to take the needed actions.
Finally, advocates should engage with the decision-makers – including elected officials, state or county public health officials, and Advisory Councils – in their jurisdiction. This may involve reaching out directly to decision-makers, attending and speaking at community meetings, writing op-eds for local publications, and building coalitions on the subject. Advocates should have a clear set of evidence-based programs that are in need of additional funding in their community. If there are open seats on an Advisory Council, advocates should make suggestions about who would be good people to fill the openings…including themselves!
The overview document also contains specific examples of how to get involved for each of the five Principles. Advocates have a key role in making sure that the money from the opioid litigation will be used to save the most lives.