Jennifer Wessel, JD, MPH
Senior Policy Analyst and Data Privacy Officer
Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield
The Arkansas State and Public School Employees Health Plan
In late 2022, it is anticipated that Arkansas will begin to receive approximately $216 million as part of a national opioid settlement with an opioid manufacturer and three distributors. As states, municipalities, and counties begin to prepare for this influx of funds, a shared framework should guide funding decisions in order to seize this critical opportunity to address the opioid epidemic in Arkansas and avoid investment in initiatives that are duplicative, insufficiently supported, or lacking evidence of effectiveness.
This white paper urges the adoption by the state and localities of spending principles that have been endorsed by numerous medical, public health, academic, and advocacy organizations to help guide state and local spending of the settlement funds. It also recommends consideration of regional approaches that consider available resources and capacity, braided funding streams from other sources to complement settlement fund spending, and area-specific assessments of the scope of substance use, including polysubstance abuse, to target interventions appropriately.