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Missouri Legislature considers how to spend millions in opioid settlement

Missouri legislators are discussing how to spend the $458 million the state was awarded in a settlement from the nation’s top opioid producers.

The state will receive the money from Johnson & Johnson and other major opioid distributors. The payments will be spread over a period of 18 years, with most of the money to be deployed within the first decade. Payments could start appearing as early as this month, according to officials.

Jackson County will get around $13 million from the settlement, and Kansas City will receive $15 million. Clay County was estimated to receive $1.4 million, according to Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s office. Missouri met the sign-on requirements to receive the maximum payout, Schmitt’s office said. A full list of the percent allocated of the opioid settlement funds for each city and county that joined is online. 

“This settlement won’t bring our loved ones back, it won’t provide any solace for those losses, but it can bring desperately needed resources to treatment centers, rehab facilities, law enforcement and others who are on the frontlines of fighting this opioid epidemic in our state,” Schmitt said.

From October 2020 to October 2021, according to the CDC, 2,131 people in Missouri died from overdoses. That marked an 11.2 percent increase from the year before.

Much is still unclear about how exactly the state will use the opioid settlement funds. The state’s money will be controlled by its agencies, where it can be accessed through grants. The state will get 60 percent of the money, and the additional 40 percent will go to individual counties or localities.

According to resolutions passed by the Kansas City Council in early March, priorities for its settlement funds will include increasing behavioral health services for those who are incarcerated, treatment services for incarcerated Missourians, expanding housing access and providing mental health support for young people who may be at risk of opioid misuse.

–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice