Health and Human Services

Opioid fund changes approved

Nebraska will have new tools to address the state’s opioid crisis under a bill passed by lawmakers April 11.

Sen. Tony Vargas
Sen. Tony Vargas

LB1355, introduced by Sen. Tony Vargas of Omaha, renames the Nebraska Opioid Recovery Fund — which contains state settlement dollars related to the opioid crisis — as the Nebraska Opioid Recovery Trust Fund and makes a number of changes to how the fund is used.

The bill directs the state treasurer to make the following annual transfers:
• $400,000 to the state Department of Health and Human Services Cash Fund to carry out the Overdose Fatality Review Teams Act;
• $1.25 million to the Training Division Cash Fund;
• $3 million to the Opioid Prevention and Treatment Cash Fund, created by the bill; and
• an amount determined by the Legislature to the newly created Opioid Treatment Infrastructure Cash Fund.

LB1355 states legislative intent that 25% of the total settlement funds received by the state be
transferred to the Opioid Prevention and Treatment Cash Fund and 75% to the Opioid Treatment Infrastructure Cash Fund.

Funds disbursed to the cash fund will be distributed proportionally among the state’s regional behavioral health authorities. Dollars appropriated to the infrastructure fund will be used for state and local public-private partnerships for entities engaged in opioid treatment, including capital construction and renovation. Administrative costs are capped at 5%.

Also included in LB1355 is legislative intent to appropriate $500,000 in general funds to DHHS for distribution to local public health departments for opioid use prevention and mediation. Funds appropriated for this purpose will be offset by a reduction in the state’s appropriation to the Behavior Health Aid program.

An appropriation of $250,000 in general funds to support research on opioid addiction and misuse prevention at the University of Nebraska Medical Center also will be offset by a reduction in the Behavioral Health Aid appropriation.

Finally, regional behavioral health authorities and local public health departments are required to report in even-numbered years regarding the use of funds.

LB1355 passed on a 41-0 vote and takes effect immediately.

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