Calls grow for state to use money from opioid settlement for treatment and prevention, not general use

Drug treatment advocates and families of people who died from opioids are outraged. They are demanding that all future monies be used only for drug treatment and prevention.

News 12 Staff

Apr 22, 2021, 7:55 PM

Updated 1,086 days ago

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There's a political tug of war going on in Albany over money the state received from a court settlement against pharmaceutical companies that produce opioids.
Drug treatment advocates and families of people who died from opioids are outraged. They are demanding that all future monies be used only for drug treatment and prevention.
"New York state stands to get between a half-billion and $800 million," says Avi Isreal, of Save the Michaels of the World. "We cannot allow Gov. Cuomo to take this money. We cannot allow him to use it for whatever he sees fit. This money should go to the people who need it."
Israel says his son, Michael, was being treated for Crohn's disease when he became addicted to opioids. He says the addiction led to his son taking his own life.
"It's really upsetting to me that the governor decided that he's the only one that can decide what to do with the money," says who?
Linda Ventura, of Thomas' Hope Foundation, says the money can be used to help many young people in recovery. Ventura says it's hard to recover when you are homeless and have no job skills.
Ventura's son, Thomas, got addicted to pain killers when he was 15 and died from an overdose. Ventura is just one of many people who traveled to Albany last month demanding that the money the state received be used to battle substance abuse.
In the budget, Cuomo did give $32 million of the settlement money to the state agency that oversees substance abuse but at the same time he cut the regular funding by $21 million.
Critics call that a shell game that resulted in Cuomo being able to use two-thirds of the settlement for other purposes.
State Sen. Pete Harckham is co-sponsoring a bill that would put future settlements in a so-called lockbox, which could only be tapped for treatment and prevention programs.
Supporters hope that unlike their last lobbying effort, this one will pay off.


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