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Two-thirds of Pennsylvania’s opioid trust fund unused, giving green light to new projects

Two-thirds of Pennsylvania’s opioid trust fund unused, giving green light to new projects

Two-thirds of Pennsylvania’s opioid trust fund unused, giving green light to new projects

The Pennsylvania Opioid Trust made progress in approving county projects, but most of the funds sent since 2021 have yet to be spent.

“Having sent our money in 2021, we have still only spent $70 million of the more than $200 million,” Tom VanKirk, president of the Pennsylvania Opioid Abuse and Addiction Reduction Fund, said during a meeting Thursday. “Money still needs to be spent as quickly as possible on appropriate uses.”

Counties, which will receive 70% of available opioid trust funds in several national settings, will be granted extensions beyond the spending deadline due to slow implementation and growing problems in administering local programs .

“Having sent our money in 2021, we have still only spent $70 million of the more than $200 million,” said Tom VanKirk, president of the Pennsylvania Opioid Misuse and Addiction Abatement Trust. fake images

In May, the Trust approved most of the 400 projects proposed by counties, but a significant portion needed more information or improvements before the trust would approve them.

To qualify for money for opioids, projects must meet the approved uses set forth in Test E; The money cannot be spent solely for law enforcement or community needs, for example, but must have some kind of connection to improving opioids. For many projects that could not demonstrate a connection, the Trust categorized them as “still under consideration” and rejected a minority of them outright.

“As we looked at this, we didn’t think it was fair to just say no, it’s not compliant or, on the other hand, without enough information, just say yes,” VanKirk said. “So we will send them back for further consideration.”

In May, the Trust approved most of the 400 projects proposed by counties, but a significant portion needed more information or improvements before the trust would approve them. fake images

The Philadelphia projects had been singled out for lack of detail in their $11 million request and this time they got more research.

“This was really the first time they broke down large block grants into mini-grants,” VanKirk said. “We think most of them will be approved, but we need to treat Philadelphia like everyone else.”

Several city projects, such as outreach and prevention activities to connect people to addiction services, provide care for injuries and get people off the streets, received approval. The city also proposed several community events, such as funding for youth sports leagues and educational programs, which did not receive approval. Board members wanted to see clearer connections to opioid-related activities, even as they supported the idea behind the programs.

The Philadelphia projects had been singled out for lack of detail in their $11 million request and this time they got more research. SOPA/LightRocket Images via Getty Images

“In addition to it being a diversion toward sports, will there be any educational component, any signs or any connection to drug abuse?” said Mifflin County Commissioner Robert Postal. “We’re not just making people behave better. “We have to respect the intent of Annex E.”

Elsewhere, some rural counties remain in the planning phases while others gain approval and spend the funds. Forest County, one of the state’s smallest populated counties, is still in the process of creating an opioid commission to send funds.