ALBANY, NY – Senator Sue Serino is backing legislation that would ensure any funds awarded to New York State in litigation against opioid manufacturers, distributors, dispensers, consultants, and resellers be utilized to bolster addiction and treatment services. The bill comes in response to a move earlier this year by the Governor to sweep millions from a major opioid settlement into the state’s General Fund and away from needed services, a move opposed by many legislators, advocates, local governments and families who have been impacted by the opioid epidemic.
“The opioid epidemic has devastated families across New York,” said Senator Serino. “Every dollar that the state is able to successfully retrieve to hold bad actors accountable for their role in exasperating the crisis should go directly to improving services to help impacted New Yorkers rebuild their lives, not to the Governor’s own slush fund. This bill is a step in the right direction and will help to ensure future settlement funds go where they are needed most, but the state needs to do right by New Yorkers and ensure the settlement money the state currently has is used to address the opioid epidemic, not to fund the Governor’s own pet projects.”
In February of 2021, consulting firm McKinsey & Company settled with Attorneys General of 49 states, including New York, for its role in helping to ‘turbocharge’ opioid sales in the United States. From this settlement, New York received $32 million. The 2022 State Budget appropriated that funding to opioid treatment and prevention programs, however, the Division of the Budget has the authority to offset the general fund with this settlement money. In April 2021, New York’s Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS) notified treatment providers that $21 million of that settlement would be directed to the General Fund while $11 million would be dedicated to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for incarcerated New Yorkers. The bill that passed in the Senate today (S. 7194) would prevent similar actions from ever being taken with future opioid settlements and would ensure the funding won would be used to directly combat the epidemic.
Senator Serino has also written to the Governor to request that the settlement money from McKinsey be placed in a ‘lockbox’ and used directly to help rectify the wrongdoings that originally led to the settlement. To view a copy of Senator Serino’s letter, please click here.