State defends response to Opioid Settlement Fund Advisory Board

By Published On: December 8th, 2022Categories: Capitol Notes

The state Office of Addiction Services and Supports is defending their decision not to implement certain funding recommendations made by the state Opioid Settlement Fund Advisory Board, including investments in lifesaving overdose prevention centers.

Asked why OASAS Commissioner Chinazo Cunningham didn’t raise concerns about specific recommendations during the board’s last meeting, a spokesman for the office noted that board members were advised during meetings that “state and federal law could impact the decision to accept or reject recommendations.”

Asked why the commissioner rejected the board’s  recommendation that funding for harm reduction flow through the state Department of Health, the OASAS spokesman said it was “inconsistent with the executive’s constitutionally authorized role in determining what agency receives state funding and where such funding may be directed.”

The state attorney general’s office, which championed the board and appointed a member to it, did not respond to an inquiry about the constitutionality of the board’s recomendations.

Asked how the board’s recommendations to invest $8 million in a specific organization was deemed appropriate, the spokesman said it was allowable because it was consistent with language in the adopted state budget.

Senate Health Committee Chair Gustavo Rivera, a Bronx Democrat carrying legislation paving the way for the broader utilization of overdose prevention centers, said in a statement that he was “incredibly disappointed” by the Hochul administration’s decision to reject investing in this life-saving approach to harm reduction.

“We wrote and passed the law, establishing the advisory board and their role, to ensure that monies from these settlements will go directly to meaningful substance use disorder prevention, treatment, recovery, and harm reduction services for New Yorkers,” Rivera said.