The Legal Action Center (LAC), with the support of the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), has crafted the Equity Considerations for Local Health Departments on Opioid Settlement Funds Checklist. This valuable resource aims to guide county and city health officials through decision-making and priority setting for the allocation and distribution of opioid settlement funds. Local health departments (LHDs) with the influence on the use of these funds must take the time to consider how these funds can be leveraged effectively to address the unique needs of people with substance use disorders (SUDs), prevent overdose, prioritize underserved communities and advance health equity.
This resource highlights the key principles of community engagement, oversight and accountability, and cultural humility – all vital components for advancing health equity in the distribution of these funds. It also clarifies the restrictions placed on 70% of funds to be used on “opioid remediation efforts,” which consists of treatment, programs, and expenditures. Key considerations include promoting health equity in fund allocation, avoiding unproven treatment modalities, and refraining from redirecting funds to law enforcement and child protective services, which could further exacerbate the criminalization of marginalized populations.
LHDs should also recognize the persistence of systemic inequities and barriers to accessing SUD treatment amidst increasing rates of SUD and fatal overdoses. Prioritizing underserved populations historically overlooked for evidence-based SUD treatment, and often subject to punitive measures, is essential.
The resource is divided into five critical sections, each offering strategies for LHDs to improve access to services; remove funding constraints; tailor support for priority communities; collect data for the promotion of health equity; and community education. Thoughtful questions and prompts inform the implementation of each strategy area.
For any questions about this checklist or other resources related to integrating health equity into overdose prevention, please contact us at [email protected].