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Kootenai County to consider opioid settlement funds

Idaho will receive approximately $120 million as part of settlements with Johnson & Johnson and three major opioid distributors.
Credit: Coeur d'Alene Press

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — Kootenai County commissioners are weighing whether to accept the county’s $2.4 million cut of nationwide opioid settlements or allocate the funds to Panhandle Health District, as reported by our news partners, the Coeur d'Alene Press.

Idaho will receive approximately $120 million as part of settlements with Johnson & Johnson and three major opioid distributors.

The funds will be divided between the state, counties, cities and health districts. Counties have the option to allocate their portion to their local health district.

Kootenai County’s $2.4 million allotment would be dispersed in chunks of about $135,000 per year over 18 years. Panhandle Health District will receive about $193,000 per year for the same period.

Commissioner Leslie Duncan said Tuesday that she supports the county keeping the funds, suggesting that the money could be used to offset costs associated with opioid treatment in the county jail.

During each of the last three months, Duncan said, about 80 people have gone through detox in jail.

“I see a big taxpayer savings here, so I would like us to go down this path,” she said.

The settlement funds must be spent on approved opioid remediation programs, whether new or already established. It’s unclear whether the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office has any existing programs that would qualify to receive funding.

Commissioners Duncan and Bill Brooks opted not to make a formal decision Tuesday on whether to keep the funds or allocate them to PHD. The board will take up the matter again at a future hearing.

Counties and cities have until Dec. 3 to accept their allotment of funds.

The Coeur d'Alene Press is a KREM 2 news partner. For more from our partners, click here.

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