Local organizations seek nearly $1 million in additional opioid settlement funds

Alliance for Substance Abuse Progress (ASAP) officials said they submitted a county-wide application for nearly $1 million in additional opioid settlement funds to be made available through a state grant.

The application comes after state officials announced that they would make an additional $25 million of Indiana’s share of nationwide opioid settlements available to local governments through a one-time matching grant.

After state officials announced the grant opportunity, ASAP worked with local organizations and officials to gauge their need for additional funding and sought requests to be included in a county-wide application that ASAP will submit to the state to request funds, said ASAP Executive Director Sherri Jewett.

ASAP received 11 requests from local organizations that were included in the application and submitted before the application deadline this past Tuesday, Jewett said.

In total, the organizations asked for a collective $950,000 from the state’s share of the opioid settlement funds, according to figures provided by Jewett.

In addition, the city of Columbus and Bartholomew County governments pooled together money from their own shares of opioid settlement funds — $789,990 — to use as matching funds for the state grant. The organizations also committed to using a combined $1.1 million of their own funds.

Officials said they tentatively expect state officials to make a decision on the grant request by May 1. If awarded any grant funding, the grants would start in July.

“The community put in $1.9 million their own resources and asked for about half of that back from the state,” Jewett said.

The requests

The funding requests, if granted, could result in a significant expansion in recovery housing in Bartholomew County, officials said.

Jewett previously said that the funding requests would help add upwards of 75 recovery beds in Bartholomew County, Jewett said. There are currently about 120 recovery beds at various facilities across the county — and demand far exceeds local capacity.

Bridge to Dove, a nonprofit that was formed by former St. Peter’s Lutheran Church Pastor Mark Teike, is hoping to open a level-four recovery house in Bartholomew County for women, Jewett said.

Centerstone has made a proposal to add a level-three recovery house in Bartholomew County for men.

Additionally, Thrive Alliance has agreed to a proposal in which it would fund 80% of the purchase price for four recovery homes in Bartholomew County, with the remaining 20% being split between the county’s and state’s share of opioid settlement funds.

West Virginia-based Ascension, which has previously worked with ASAP, has expressed interest in operating the homes and would lease the facilities from Thrive Alliance.

Other requests included in the application involve expanding existing efforts and programs in the community, Jewett said.

The Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department requested funds to hire a full-time staff member for its jail treatment program to help plan people’s release from incarceration, including identifying housing, scheduling treatment appointments and finding employment.

Transformational Life Ministries and Community Downtown requested grant funding to expand services in their recovery residences and train additional recovery coaches.

Family Service Inc. asked for funding to hire an additional therapist to treat youth and families with mental health issues.

Foundation for Youth requested money for youth and guardian prevention activities related to opioids, prescription misuse, among other issues.

Turning Point Domestic Violence Services asked for grant funding for substance used disorder case management and support personnel for victims of domestic violence.

Opioid settlements

The grant funding comes from Indiana’s share of nationwide settlements with a major pharmaceutical manufacturer and the nation’s three largest drug distributors over their roles in the opioid addiction crisis.

The settlements resolved lawsuits that alleged that the companies helped fuel the opioid crisis, including downplaying the risk of addition to prescription opioid pain medications, among other claims.

Under the terms of the settlements, Johnson & Johnson has nine years to pay its $5 billion share, including up to $3.7 billion during the first three years. The distributors — AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson — agreed to pay their combined $21 billion over 18 years.

In July, the Indiana Attorney General’s Office announced that Indiana would receive $507 million as part of a multi-state agreement. The amount sent to each state under the opioid settlement depends on a formula that takes into account the severity of the crisis and the population.

Local governments in Bartholomew County will collectively receive a total of $3.2 million through 2038 as part of the settlements, including $3 million for Bartholomew County, $194,011 for the city of Columbus and $9,343 for the town of Hope, according to the attorney general’s office.

Any funds that the local officials receive through the one-time matching grant would be in addition to the local community’s individual share of the opioid settlement.

Officials said they tentatively expect state officials to make a decision on the grant request by May 1. The grant is expected to start July 1.

“We’ll know pretty quickly,” Jewett said. “…The community really did a great job at making requests that really fit what’s needed.”