Navigating Opioid Settlement Fund Distribution

Navigating Opioid Settlement Fund Distribution

Over the next 15 years, state, local, and tribal authorities will have the opportunity to receive funds from a pool of more than $54 billion in opioid settlement funding. As those dollars begin to flow, recipients of the funds are tasked with identifying trustworthy partners who offer demonstrated solutions that are aligned with the spending requirements to impact addiction treatment and prevention. There is a great demand for innovative solutions, but recipients of the funds must employ a critical eye and cautious approach in determining which of the many options being presented to them are worth the investment. Unlike the dollars awarded for tobacco-related issues in the 1990s that were often spent on products and services completely unrelated to mitigating smoking’s harm, the opioid-settlement funds have stipulations that up to 85 percent must be put toward addiction treatment and prevention. There is a real opportunity here to get this right.

A lack of uniformity across governmental bodies adds to the confusion when agencies are making decisions. Administration of the opioid-settlement funds is determined individually by each allocating agency with no standard recommendations on what might be the best ways to spend the funds. Some states are putting councils in place to make decisions on where the money will go, which has led to questions about who is making the spending choices and the overall focus of the spending — whether it will lean toward addiction treatment programs or law enforcement solutions, affected urban or rural areas, and other related concerns.

Agencies must prioritize longevity, growth, and business stability when allocating resources. Certain private companies, initially promising, now face bankruptcy, leaving states and local governments without crucial tools for addressing opioid concerns. Moreover, some marketed products lack a strong connection to substance abuse disorders, lack evidence of effectiveness, and lack a track record of sustained growth, raising concerns about their ability to provide meaningful, long-term assistance.

Agencies allocating opioid settlement funds must strongly vet the solutions and products that are being marketed to them to ensure that, in the end, the dollars are applied to effective, evidence-based products and services that directly address the long-term needs related to SUD. The governments and agencies that will realize the greatest success with the dollars they spend will wisely select solutions provided by stable, scientifically based providers that address critical areas that can make a meaningful and lasting difference in the trajectory of people affected by SUD.

CHESS Health is in a unique position to address these concerns. It started with research at its core more than 12 years ago by Dave Gustafson, founder and director of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Health Enhancement Systems Studies, co-founder of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, and a nationally recognized expert in addiction treatment. Dr. Gustafson’s pioneering work on a smartphone app to support individuals with SUD during and after treatment led to the founding of CHESS Health, which has evolved to provide a complement of assistive recovery, intervention, and prevention tools that allow governments, tribal agencies, behavioral health providers and payers and health plans to realize more effective outcomes.

“This is the kind of innovative tool needed to move the field forward in addressing the overdose epidemic.”

Sara Howe, CEO of Addiction Professionals of North Carolina

Focused on giving providers the best tools to meet individuals where they are, CHESS Health is a leading partner for substance use disorder care and treatment, offering an integrated high-touch and high-tech approach to supporting addiction management and recovery. Clinical studies validate CHESS Health’s innovative services, with one study of its recovery app revealing a 31% reduction in patient relapse, a 71% reduction in re-hospitalizations, and a 20% higher likelihood of completing treatment.

One of the reasons for CHESS Health’s success is the emphasis it places on partnership and collaboration to amplify the impact of its agency partners. CHESS Health’s product offerings are designed to work alongside and in support of the agencies that implement them, offering tools and resources that increase reach, access, and effectiveness from intervention through treatment and ongoing recovery.

“(CHESS Health’s tools) help increase treatment adherence and support individuals on their path to recovery.”


CHESS Health’s existing clients, such as the state of New Mexico and Addiction Professionals of North Carolina (APNC) are using the products to extend the reach and effectiveness of services they have in place for individuals dealing with SUD.

National organizations, such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), also recognize the potential of CHESS Health’s products in addressing the opioid crisis. CHESS Health’s Connections App is included in a five-year NIH clinical trial, managed by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, to find scientific solutions to the opioid crisis.

Thoughtful distribution and management of the settlement funding will have a lasting impact on reversing the impact of this health crisis on our society. Putting these dollars to work on proven, evidence-based solutions will make a lasting impact in the efforts to prevent SUD and increase access to treatment and long-term support.

Learn more about optimizing opioid settlement funds with our Guide to Opioid Settlement Fund Allocation.