Kaiser Health Volunteers to Follow the Money
What would you do with 50 billion dollars? How about if you had to split that money with hundreds of different entities then dole it out by committee? Any ideas? Well, others have ideas too. And they won’t all be simpatico. That means there’s probably going to be blowback. Lots and lots of blowback. And more than a few shady moves to go with. Good thing Kaiser Health is on the case. Otherwise all that loot might just go up in a proverbial puff of smoke.
Yes, the Kaiser Family Foundation (aka Kaiser Health) has volunteered to monitor the opioid settlement money that’s about to be dropped into bureaucratic laps. And anyone who cares anything about substance abuse should be extremely pleased by the news. Especially considering it’s about the best news to come about since the opioid payout.
Why? Well, let’s let Kaiser Health tell it for themselves…
“…how that massive windfall is being deployed and how future dollars will be spent seem to be shrouded in mystery,” writes KFF Health News reporter Aneri Pattani. “Reporting requirements are scant, and documents filed so far are often so vague as to be useless”.
In fact, there doesn’t seem to be many concrete guarantees at all.
“Most of the settlements stipulate that states must spend at least 85% of the money they will receive over the next 15 years on addiction treatment and prevention,” continues Pattani. “But defining those concepts depends on stakeholders’ views — and state politics. To some, it might mean opening more treatment sites. To others, buying police cruisers.”
For some convoluted reason though, recipients are only required to report the extracurricular expenditures.
“Per most of the settlements, governments are required to report only on the 15% of the money that can be used for things unrelated to the epidemic, like offsetting budget shortfalls or fixing old roads.”
So nobody needs to know where and how the bulk of the money is spent? Is that not nuts — or are we?
Kaiser Health is In for Some Heavy Lifting
It won’t be easy. Not even for an entity as robust as Kaiser Health. Perhaps that’s why the healthcare concern has teamed with Christine Minhee and Opioid Settlement Tracker. Whatever the case, the tag-team has discovered that “only 12 states have committed to detailed public reporting of all their spending.” That’s right. Twelve. Whether that’s because the others don’t yet know or that they believe nobody else needs to know is anyone’s guess. We can only hope it isn’t the latter.
In the meantime, KHN and OST are on it, scouring legal documents, laws and public statements in order to determine how states will be divvying up their settlement money. Considering the windfall must be split among a variety of state agencies, as well as city and county governments, it’s not an enviable task. Nevertheless, that doesn’t give states the right to forgo transparency. Yet “many states are silent on the issue altogether.”
Not good. Decidedly not good. If states won’t open up to an entity like Kaiser Health, what chance they’ll tell the average citizen?
Kaiser Family Foundation
The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) is unquestionably one of our nation’s most beneficent organizations. An “independent source for health policy research, polling and journalism,” that’s continually relied upon by policymakers, the media and the health policy community, as well as the public.
KFF’s About Us page attests to four major program areas: KFF Policy; KFF Polling; KFF Health News (formerly known as Kaiser Health News, or KHN); and KFF Social Impact Media. The latter “conducts specialized public health information campaigns.”
Furthermore, “KFF does everything based on facts and data, and we do so objectively without taking policy positions and without affiliation to any political party or external interest.”
“KFF has evolved into a one-of-a-kind information organization that brings together health policy analysis, polling, journalism, and specialized public information campaigns. We are now a unique organization that serves as a nonpartisan source of information for policymakers, the media, the health policy community, and the public.”
– Drew Altman, Ph.D. President and CEO
In other words, just the sort of outfit you’d want following 50 billion dollars in opioid settlement money. We can only wholeheartedly thank the good folks – and wish them the very best of luck!