Leveraging Opioid Settlement Dollars - Benefits and Strategies for Health Centers 

Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) continues to be one of the greatest public health challenges in our communities. Recent data shows a national 2.8% increase in overdose deaths between August 2022 and August 2023.1  The White House has recently released the Challenge to Save Lives from Overdose  to add to our country’s evolving response. The complexity of the issue means that addressing the overdose crisis requires a multi-pronged strategy that includes prevention, harm reduction, treatment and recovery services. Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) are at the front lines of these efforts, serving over 3.3 million patients with substance use disorder in 2022.2 

As of February 2022, 48 states have accepted settlement for various lawsuits brought against pharmaceutical opioid distributors and one manufacturer in response to the national opioid and overdose crisis. Commonly referred to as the “Opioid Settlement funds”, approximately $26 billion have been distributed to states and local governments to support a range of activities addressing the root causes and impact of the opioid crisis. Beyond the Approved Uses Guidance, there is wide latitude for how to use these funds. The national Opioid Settlement Tracker is a resource that can help Health Centers and Primary Care Associations determine the process for how these funds are allocated and any pathways to influence that process. Housing creation, including supportive housing and recovery housing are cited in the national settlement agreement as potential approved uses. This analysis will focus on how and where funds are being leveraged to support housing access and other services that benefit health center patients. 

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