Emily Rice Published

Opioid Settlement Funds Foundation Enacts Mission Statement

A large pile of banknotes, cash2bgr8/Deviantart

Through settlements from various lawsuits with opioid manufacturers and distributors, West Virginia stands to gain about $1 billion over the next 10 to 15 years to be spent for recovery and prevention programs.

But it’s not clear yet when distribution of those funds will begin.

First, said Chairman of the Board Matt Harvey, board members want to ensure the money is used correctly. That’s why the West Virginia Legislature created the West Virginia First Foundation (WVFF) during the 2023 legislative session to distribute the settlement funds. 

The WVFF board met Thursday. On the agenda: accepting its mission statement, vision statement and 11 guiding principles.

The foundation’s new mission statement is: “Empowering West Virginians to prevent substance use disorder, support recovery and save lives.”

“The importance…is, it starts to tell our story as a foundation,” Harvey said. “And our foundation is obviously to abate the opioid epidemic that has ravaged us for a generation.”

At the close of the meeting, Parkersburg Mayor Tom Joyce – who’s on the board – said while he understood the necessity of agreeing to a vision, he and his constituents wonder when the foundation will take applications.

“I would like to see some real timelines as to when we’re going to actually be able to start taking applications for our funding,” Joyce said. “You know, we’re a year old, right next month. And I’m a little disheartened.”

Harvey said the board wants to get the money to work as soon as possible but the foundation is trying to ensure it is used properly.

“We do share a duty to this foundation to ensure that it’s successful, and this money is being used in an appropriate manner,” Harvey said.

The West Virginia First Foundation will handle 72.5 percent of the state’s settlement funds, while 24.5 percent will go to local governments. The remaining three percent will be held by the state in Escrow to cover any outstanding attorney’s fees.

The treasurer of the board, Jeff Sandy, reported in November 2023, that the money placed in Huntington Bank accounts is accruing interest.

Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting with support from Marshall Health.