In 2017, Wisconsin counties worked together to launch a litigation effort against those companies and individuals responsible for the opioid epidemic and the harm it has caused Wisconsin communities. Finally, this year, counties are beginning to see the fruits of their labor in the form of settlement payments from opioid distributors and Janssen. While counties are rightfully celebrating their well-deserved victory, the hard work of attempting to abate the opioid epidemic is just beginning. The Wisconsin Counties Association has created this website as a repository of information and resources for counties as they begin the process of determining how to best invest settlement funds. It is the Association’s hope that the materials on this website serve counties this year and for years to come as additional settlement funds become available.
The beauty of the court-sanctioned “approved uses” list in terms of abatement activities that are an allowed use of settlement funds is its breadth – there are multiple categories of approved uses. But the flexibility of the approved uses list also presents challenges – where does a county start to determine the best way to invest in abatement? The Association hopes the information on this website provides a starting point for discussions and a reference for materials from Wisconsin and around the country.
It is important to note that the Association makes no recommendation on the use of settlement funds or the priority of any expenditure. Different counties will approach the abatement challenge in different ways, and that is perfectly acceptable. The Association’s only request is that you keep us informed as you begin the journey of abating the epidemic. The strength of our effort will be magnified if we continue our collective approach in dealing with the opioid epidemic. What we learn from each other is imminently more valuable than any information we may receive from other sources.
The opioid epidemic has hit the nation hard. Wisconsin’s counties face this epidemic daily on many fronts, including child welfare services, county jails, public health departments, and social/human services departments. Many counties are addressing the opioid epidemic head on and are implementing programs at the local level to address the needs of those struggling with addiction.
It is exciting to begin thinking about how to best put settlement dollars to work in abating the opioid epidemic in communities throughout the state.