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Missouri House approves bill extending opioid relief funds

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri House gave initial approval to legislation expanding access to opioid treatment funds this week. 

HB 2162, sponsored by Rep. Dirk Deaton, would allow the Department of Corrections, the Office of Administration, and the judiciary to access funds from Opioid Addiction Treatment and Recovery Fund. The funds can be used for treatment and prevention services as well as other health care and law enforcement costs. 

During ongoing litigation against opioid distributors, the Opioid Addiction Treatment and Recovery Fund was created in 2020 to assist victims of opioid abuse with potential settlement funds awarded to Missouri.

In August 2021, Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced settlement term sheets from Johnson & Johnson and other opioid distributors, including McKesson, AmerisourceBergen, and Cardinal Health.

“This money will provide desperately needed funding for treatment and recovery programs, as well as needed funding for law enforcement, drug courts, and other resources,” Schmitt said at the time.

Under the current statutes, only the Department of Mental Health, the Department of Health and Senior Services, the Department of Social Services, and the Department of Public Safety had access to the funds. 

None of the departments that currently have access have objected to the inclusion of other departments.

Representatives from the Department of Corrections and the Office Of Administration testified in support of the bill in the House Budget Committee on January 11th.

“Opioid misuse, abuse, overdose deaths continue to be a real problem here in Missouri and around the country,” Deaton, a Republican from Noel, said.

In the first half of 2021, drug overdoses increased by 9 percent, according to Deaton. 

HB 2162 passed unanimously through the Budget and Rules – Legislative Oversight committees and was perfected in the House on Wednesday.