Counties form national network of opioid settlement decision makers
Four Kentucky leaders, including three board members at the Kentucky Association of Counties (KACo), have been selected for the Opioid Solutions Leadership Network, a national cohort of county officials and leaders pursuing effective implementation of opioid settlement funds.
This week the National Association of Counties (NACo) named Boone County Judge/Executive Gary Moore, Harlan County Judge/Executive Dan Mosley, Madison County Judge/Executive Reagan Taylor and Lauren Carr, Executive Director of the Graves County Agency for Substance Abuse Prevention to the group.
“Kentucky is fortunate to have representation from all corners of our state as part of the Opioid Solutions Leadership Network,” said Jim Henderson, Executive Director of KACo. “As counties begin receiving settlement funds to address the dire effects of the prescription opioid epidemic, information and idea sharing are critical for the long-term success of the settlement program.”
NACo is partnering with Vital Strategies, a global health organization, to equip county decision makers with tools and evidence-based solutions to address substance use disorder in their communities. In addition to the four Kentucky members, the Opioid Solutions Leadership Network includes 26 leaders from California, Florida, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Based on NACo’s signature peer learning model, group members will explore opioid abatement strategies across the substance use continuum of care (prevention, treatment, recovery and harm reduction) and support one another in customizing and implementing strategies in their home jurisdictions.
“The many negative issues that the over prescribing of opioids and other legal and illegal pain medications have wreaked havoc on our citizens,” Judge Moore said. “My work on this issue began in 2016 as I was the national co-chair of the opioid task force created by the NACo and the National League of Cities. Many successes have occurred since then and I believe our best work is ahead of us.”
“It’s an honor to be selected to participate in the Opioid Solutions Leadership Network. The drug problem has adversely impacted our nation in a way that has been felt by every family and every community,” Judge Mosley said. “I look forward to working with others from across the nation selected for this important work to find real meaningful solutions that can be implemented in our communities to save lives, address needs of people with substance use issues, and find ways to make wise investments to help curb this epidemic.”
“The drug epidemic has been the root of so many issues in Madison County: our detention center overcrowding, the impact on our first responders, demand on our health care system, the impact on our workforce, and the fracture of homes and families, to name a few,” Judge Taylor said. “I am excited to be able to learn from a group of leaders across the country and develop local strategies that have a lasting impact on our county.”
Earlier this year, a $26 billion national settlement was finalized with Cardinal Health, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen – three major pharmaceutical distributors in the U.S. (Distributors) – and Johnson & Johnson (J&J), which manufactured and marketed opioids. Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced additional agreements this week with Walmart, Teva Pharmaceuticals and Allergan for their roles in the opioid epidemic.
In total, Kentucky will receive more than $645 million in settlement funds. KACo worked in collaboration with the Attorney General’s office, to ensure that counties receive their fair share of this money to support addiction treatment and recovery services.
In 2021, more 100,000 people died of a drug overdose in the United States – the highest annual overdose death rate to date. According to the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, Kentuckians accounted for 2,250 of those deaths.