As committee members of General Services and Public Works Councilmembers McEvers, Gookin, and Miller voted to reallocate a $1.3 Million settlement to Panhandle Health. City clerk Renata Mcleod said city staff felt “undergunned” to properly manage these funds distributed annually at roughly $73,000 for the next 18 years.
The settlement comes after the Idaho Attorney General requested cities and counties participate in the class action suit against pharmaceutical companies that made, marketed, and distributed opioids which have contributed to dependency and deaths. This is the first of additional expected settlements which could double the annual funds allocated to Panhandle Health. Don Duffy, director at Panhandle Health, said the settlement would likely be used to treat Opioid Use Disorder which may become PHD’s largest program.
CdA is not the first and only city/county in our region to reallocate the settlement to Panhandle Health. Katherine Hoyer, communications officer at Panhandle Health, verified that the city of Hayden reallocated their funds in November when the settlement occurred. No other jurisdictions have reallocated these funds to Panhandle Health District but advocates are hopeful that other municipalities will follow suit.
When asked whether constituents will approve of the reallocation considering significant loss of trust in public health entities such as the CDC and Panhandle Health over the last two years, Dan Gookin responded that “PHD is far better equipped to deal with the opioid issue than the City. They already have administration and programs in place, which the City does not. Their charter is public health, which makes them ideal.”
Don Duffy stated that the funds would be considered [Coeur d’Alene] funds and he would like to regularly report on usage. PHD has not commented on how it will ensure CdA’s dollars will be dispersed for the city rather than one of the other five counties or many cities that make up the PHD. Ultimately, a reallocation allows PHD to disperse the funds as needed.