Tension around best ways to spend opioid settlement money

By Taylor Knopf

The first payments from a $26 billion, multi-state opioid lawsuit settlement are set to arrive in the states later this spring, and in North Carolina, there are already disagreements over which groups are most qualified to receive the money. 

Over the course of 18 years, North Carolina will receive $750 million of the opioid settlement funds from the agreement reached with drug companies for their alleged roles in fueling the opioid epidemic. Most of the money will be sent to North Carolina’s county governments to help people and communities impacted by the overdose crisis. 

The NC Attorney General’s Office and the state health department created very specific guidelines for how each county can use its share of the money. Nonetheless, there’s growing tension around what interventions and treatments should be funded, and some approaches are backed by more scientific evidence for treating opioid addiction than others. 

For example, a recently formed group called Bridge to 100 aims to help secure opioid settlement funds for “faith-based rehabilitation centers” in all 100 North Carolina counties. The group was founded by former state GOP leader Robin Hayes, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in 2019 and was pardoned by Donald Trump in January 2021. 

Now, Hayes is turning his attention to the opioid settlement, and helping him is former businessman Daniel Williford who was convicted of a multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme and is still serving time in federal prison, according to the federal inmate database. Hayes said Williford — who is finishing the remainder of his sentence at home — has been an “outstanding” help. Hayes said he plans to put Williford on the Bridge to 100’s board of directors, saying “everybody deserves another chance.”

“I’ve been in the public service business for well over 40 years now. I think this is another way that I can use the contacts that I have, the experience and knowledge to continue to help people,” said Hayes, who is also a former NC congressman. 

“This is an extremely important issue, and there are a number of different tools and assets and people and organizations that can and should be at the table.”

Faith groups and medical experts at odds

Most of the faith-based groups Hayes said he’s partnering with use a 12-step approach to treating addiction, meaning they do not use medications. One addiction treatment program in Stanley County emphasizes

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Boosting money for pediatrics, donating to Ukraine, breast milk required: Seacoast overall health news

College students raise income for Cornerstone VNA’s Pediatric Fund

ROCHESTER – Cornerstone VNA, a area nonprofit house health and hospice care provider, a short while ago obtained a generous donation of $484 from the HOSA (Wellness Occupations Pupils of America) students at the Richard W. Creteau Regional Technological innovation Centre at Spaulding Higher School in Rochester. This donation is a final result of a distinctive bake sale that the pupils arranged to assist the Kiddie Cornerstone Fund at Cornerstone VNA.

The Kiddie Cornerstone Fund was recognized in 2016 to supply presents for the organization’s pediatric sufferers to bring smiles to their youngest patients and to encourage hope and therapeutic at household. In addition to gifts, this sort of as books, coloring publications, and compact toys, funds are also applied to obtain gas playing cards to aid with transportation to health-related appointments for people in need to have.

“Childhood illnesses are terrifying for younger sufferers and their people, and the economic load can be so too much to handle,” shares Erika Lee, Director of Improvement. “Thanks to donations to our Kiddie Cornerstone Fund, we can offer an added layer of guidance in the sort of toys and textbooks, distinctive products, gasoline cards, and even gifts above the holiday seasons. We are really grateful to the pupils for their efforts to guidance our younger patients.”

HOSA Co-President, Mia Baillargeon shares, “We are fortunate enough to have a excellent team of women [students] this calendar year that are passionate about serving the group and reaching out to those who may have to have it most.  Of class we could have raised income for ourselves, but this was some thing more honorable, that would make an influence on others.” HOSA Advisor, Lisa Kumph adds, “Our HOSA team was extremely excited to be in a position to aid the kids in our neighborhood. The college students and employees at Spaulding Higher Faculty and the Creteau Tech Middle shown their generosity by means of aid of the bake sale.”

For far more information or to make a donation to the Kiddie Cornerstone Fund, visit cornerstonevna.org/kiddie-cornerstone-fund or connect with Erika Lee at 603-332-1133 x1203.

Wentworth-Douglass personnel workforce up to donate much more than $8,300 for clinical provides in Ukraine

DOVER – More than 50 staff members users at Wentworth-Douglass Medical center have generously donated $8,300 in just 10 times to be made use of for the invest

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Arizona Privatized Prison Health Care to Save Money. But at What Cost?

In 2017, Walter Jordan wrote a memo to a federal judge from the Arizona State Prison Complex in Florence. “Notice of Impending Death,” it said in a shaky hand.

Jordan told the judge that Arizona corrections officials and Corizon Health, the state prison system’s private health care contractor at that time, delayed treating his cancer for so long that he would be “lucky to be alive for 30 days.” Jordan, 67, had a common form of skin cancer that is rarely life-threatening if caught early, but said he experienced memory loss and intense pain from botched care. Other men in his unit were also denied treatment, he wrote, “all falling, yelling, screaming of pain.”

Jordan was dead eight days later.

Reviewing his medical records later, Dr. Todd Wilcox, a physician hired by lawyers for the state’s prisoners, agreed that Jordan’s death was likely preventable. Corizon’s treatment of Jordan’s “excruciating needless pain,” was “the opposite of how cancer pain should be managed,” he said.

Wilcox will take the stand in a landmark trial that begins Monday in Phoenix, the latest chapter in an almost decade-long struggle to determine whether Arizona’s prisoners are getting the basic health care they are entitled to under the law.

The trial pits Arizona against the people held in its prisons, who argue in a class-action lawsuit that the medical services they receive are so poor, they constitute cruel and unusual punishment. The state’s current health care contractor, Centurion, is the latest in a string of companies that have failed to pass muster with the courts.

None of the companies have been named as defendants in the lawsuit, because, the claimants say, the state is ultimately responsible for their care. The suit was originally filed in 2012, shortly before private contractors took over Arizona’s prison medical services. But whether privatization can provide decent care is one of the biggest issues looming over the trial.

The Arizona Department of Corrections declined to comment on pending litigation. Centurion of Arizona and Corizon, based in Tennessee, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Arizona is one of around two dozen states that use a private, for-profit contractor to provide prison medical care, and almost all have been sued. But a trial is rare, as most states settle to avoid this kind of exhaustive public scrutiny.

Health care in Arizona prisons is “grossly inadequate,” the prisoners have said in

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