Commission named to disburse funds from opioid settlement

Published 5:09 pm Monday, June 13, 2022


Kentucky Health News

Attorney General Daniel Cameron has appointed the 11 people who will oversee the state’s half of the $483 million settlement it reached as part of a national agreement with opioid manufacturers and distributors. The Opioid Abatement Advisory Commission will meet twice a year to approve awards from the settlement fund and will have an executive director, W. Bryan Hubbard, appointed by Cameron from his staff.

Email newsletter signup

Hubbard, a lawyer, has overseen Cameron’s Medicaid fraud unit. In the Matt Bevin administration, he ran the state agency that handles Social Security disability and child-support enforcement.

“Bryan has dedicated his career to the welfare of Kentucky families and children, and he intimately understands the ripple effects of the opioid crisis in the commonwealth,” Cameron said. “I know that he will guide the work of the commission with a steady hand and ensure that the settlement funds are distributed to meaningful opioid abatement initiatives.”

Hubbard will be a member of the commission “representing victims of the opioid crisis,” as described in the 2021 law creating the commission. The members mandated by the law are Cameron, who will serve as chair; state Treasurer Allison Ball, and Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Eric Friedlander, who works for Gov. Andy Beshear, a fellow Democrat. The others are Republicans (Cameron is running to unseat Beshear in 2023) and so is Rep. Danny Bentley of Russell, appointed as a non-voting member by House Speaker David Osborne. The other non-voting member, appointed by Senate President Robert Stivers, is Karen Kelly, district director for U.S. Rep. Harold “Hal” Rogers, R-Somerset, and former director of his Operation UNITE anti-drug initiative.

The other members, filling seats specified by the law, are state Office of Drug Control Policy Director Van Ingram, representing the drug treatment and prevention community; Vic Brown of London, deputy director of the Appalachian High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, representing law enforcement; Jason Roop of Campbellsville University, representing victims of the opioid crisis; Karen Butcher of Georgetown, representing citizens at large; Simmons College of Kentucky Vice President Von Purdy of Louisville, representing citizens at large; and Dr. Sharon Walsh, representing the HEALing Communities Study at the University of Kentucky, which appointed her.

The release said the commission will hold its first meeting “in the coming days” and establish a framework for distributing funds. The other half of the settlement will go to local governments and be distributed “in accordance with an agreement reached among them,” the law says. “If no such agreement is reached, the money shall be paid to a trustee appointed jointly by the Kentucky Association of Counties and the Kentucky League of Cities for distribution of the funds.”

The $483 million coming to Kentucky is part of a $26 billion settlement with Cardinal Health, McKesson Corp., AmerisourceBergen and Johnson & Johnson.