The OneOhio Recovery Foundation was formed to support the OhioOhio plan, after the 2021 opioid settlement awarded Ohio around $2 Billion dollars for opioid crisis recovery. The Foundation is tasked with distributing 55 percent of Ohio’s opioid settlement funds over the next two decades. The rest will go directly to the state and local governments.
How did we get here?
The OneOhio plan, currently reflecting a settlement valued at approximately $864.89 million, is an agreement between the Governor, Attorney General, and several local governments on how to jointly approach settlement negotiations and litigation with the drug manufacturers and distributors of opioids. The plan provides a mechanism for the distribution of any opioid settlement funds and outlines allowable expenses. The agreed upon distribution of funds includes:
- 15 percent of the funding will go to the state to be used to improve buying power to offer prevention, treatment, and recovery support services.
- 30 percent will be set aside for community recovery that will address the immediate needs of residents by providing funding directly to every county, city, village, and township in Ohio.
- 55 percent will be set aside for the creation of a statewide foundation that will manage the funding of immediate and long-term planning that local communities need to persistently combat the opioid crisis.
Consistent with the OneOhio plan, the state created the OneOhio Recovery Foundation, which is overseen by Executive Director Alisha Nelson, and 29 board members. The board members include 5 governor appointees, 1 appointment from the Attorney General, 4 members of the legislature, 11 members representing non-metropolitan regions, and 8 members from Ohio’s metropolitan regions. As of September 28, 2023, the Region 10 (Non-metro) board member is the only vacant position.
Map of the 19 Regions created by the OneOhio Recovery Foundation.
What has the Foundation been up to?
Since the Foundation’s creation, it has primarily focused on establishing the necessary groundwork to build the organization. This has included:
- Launching tools to communicate with the public to foster transparency, which includes social media accounts and launching a website.
- Established the expert panel policy, which will provide guidance and advice to members of the 19 regional boards and the board as projects are considered for funding. Over 90 Ohioans applied to serve on the panel.
- Held meetings with stakeholder groups representing first responders, addiction prevention, treatment and recovery, health, and other related fields.
- Built the grant-making policy, selected the software that will be used for the application, review, and distribution process, and hired a director of grants management.
- Finalized policies for gift acceptance, excess benefit transactions, conflict of interest, diversity, equity and inclusion, governance, transparency, finances and investment procedures, record retention, and whistleblowers.
- Held monthly public board meetings to ensure that all business, policy development, allocations, and other decision-making are conducted transparently and following established policies.
It is important to note that the state budget, H.B.33, mandates that meetings of the board of directors must be open to public unless in executive session and specifies that the organization is not a state entity and does not need to comply with public records requests.
September Board Meeting Recap
The September Board Meeting was the first where the Foundation had an executive director and essentially a full board. Governor DeWine Alisha Nelson became the first executive director of the Foundation on August 21st, and they attended the meeting to share remarks with board members.
Director Nelson shared her excitement to join the Foundation and the unique opportunity present to impact Ohioans. She said, “Through your guidance and support and the support of our state and local partners across Ohio we can shape the future of behavioral healthcare in Ohio.” She emphasized that their approach to distributing funds must be done in a transparent, equitable, and efficient manner and that using data-driven, evidence-based practices will help ensure that the whole person is treated.
Governor DeWine opened his remarks by providing a brief history of his involvement with the Opioid Settlements and his motivation for creating the Foundation. He noted that Ohio’s experience with the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, specifically the diversion and securitization of funds as the main catalyst for its creation. He reiterated the uniqueness of the settlement and the opportunities that exist if funds are used as intended, to provide additional investments in opioid prevention, treatment, and recovery. Governor DeWine committed that during his tenure as governor the state will not pull back their efforts and will allow these funds to be used to supplement not replace state efforts.
How fast will the board spend the settlement funds?
Governor DeWine raised two ideas for the board to consider going forward during his remarks. The first relates to the idea of longevity. How fast will the board spend the settlement funds? While the settlements are on a multi-year payment plan will the board make this funding a permanent or a semi-permanent fund? The last point for consideration was encouragement to think big and to decide whether there is anything that could be accomplished with this funding that state or local governments would be unable to achieve on their own, yet the board could undertake that would have a lasting impact.
With the OneOhio Recovery Foundation officially having a permanent executive director, nearly full board, and many of the necessary policies in place, it should begin ramping up its work soon. Community Solutions will continue to monitor the progress of the Foundation in their work in addressing the opioid epidemic.