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Gem County will be receiving a small share of the $119 million that Idaho is entitled to as part of two national opioid settlements. Exactly what dollar amount Gem County will eventually receive is still in limbo.

Attorney General Lawrence Wasden announced two weeks ago that all eligible counties and cities in Idaho had signed on to participate in the two national opioid settlements. Gem County was eligible, the City of Emmett was not eligible to participate.

Gem County Commissioner Bill Butticci said that while the exact amount to be received is to be determined after the final state filings are complete, of the portion designated for Idaho, as much as $600,000 could possibly be available to the county.

On August 24, 2021, Wasden and Governor Brad Little announced their intention to join the settlements, which total up to $119 million for Idaho and participating counties and cities.

The total amount of funding for the state, counties and cities is dependent on how many eligible entities sign on to participate. A condition to receiving the maximum amount of available funds is that all 44 counties and 24 cities eligible to participate sign on. As of last week, all 68 eligible entities have now agreed to join the settlements, putting Idaho well on its way to receiving the full $119 million.

“This level of participation shows the strong commitment of both the state and local governments to work together to obtain the most money to fight the opioid epidemic in Idaho,” Wasden said. “This outcome would not have been possible without the coordinated work of multiple organizations and local governments, including the counties, cities, and regional health districts, the Idaho Prosecuting Attorneys Association, the Idaho Association of Counties and the Association of Idaho Cities. I credit everyone involved for getting us to this point.”

Nationally, the deadline for local governments to sign on to the opioid settlements is January 26, 2022 so Idaho completed meeting signing requirements about 30 days before that deadline.

The settlements are still contingent upon there being enough local government participation nationally. An announcement on whether those thresholds have been met is expected in late February 2022. Once the settlements are finalized, participating entities could see their first payments as early as April 2022.

Under the Idaho Opioid Settlement Intrastate Allocation Agreement, opioid settlement funds will be divided with 40% going directly to participating counties and cities and 20% to regional public health districts. The remaining 40% will be allocated to the State-Directed Opioid Settlement Fund to be appropriated by the Idaho Legislature based on recommendations by the Idaho Behavioral Health Council.

How Gem County will spend whatever funds it receives is yet undetermined according to Butticci.

“We are waiting to see the specific requirements of where those funds can be utilized,” Butticci said. “In the meantime we are assembling a committee of professionals from various areas of physical and mental health to help us priorities the needs and determine where the most impact can be made in the county with the funds available. The needs are very broad. Opioid addiction treatments, life recovery groups, support groups, EMS expenses related to handling opioid overdose treatment are just some of the areas we will look at.”

Butticci made clear that the new funds won’t be spent immediately upon receipt. “We anticipate the committee will meet regularly and report at least quarterly to the commission on those priorities. We have about 13 candidates for that committee already.”

Final expenditures will be subject to commission authorization.

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