AG Kaul makes stop in Milwaukee calling on opioid settlement funds to be released

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Wisconsin is set to receive funds from an opioid settlement involving some pharmaceutical companies. Right now, the money is being held up by Republicans who control the budget committee.

Attorney General Josh Kaul made a stop at West Grove Clinic Friday, Aug. 26, calling attention to the need for those funds in cities like Milwaukee.

"Statistics have shown dramatic increases of the use of fentanyl and overdose death rate in the past decade but I think the pandemic has also escalated the crisis more so," said Dr. Selahattin Kurter, executive director of West Grove Clinic.

West Grove Clinic is a state certified mental health and addiction treatment center in Milwaukee. Tackling the opioid crisis at clinics like this one has been a priority for state officials.

"We have been working not only to hold the companies accountable that are responsible for this epidemic but also to make sure we're getting resources for communities across the state to fight this epidemic," said AG Josh Kaul.

$31 million is coming to Wisconsin as a result of a multi-state settlement. Kaul says the money will go towards tackling the issue in our state.

The Wisconsin Dept. of Health Services (DHS) has a plan for how the funds will be distributed.

"Making sure we invest in harm reduction. Things like Narcan, fentanyl test strips so we can save lives, and invest in additional treatment so providers like West Grove Clinic have the resources they need to expand," said Karen Timberlake, DHS Secretary-designee.

Republicans who control the budget committee disagree with the plan proposed by health officials on how to spend the funds. Providers like West Grove Clinic say the delay in receiving funding is endangering lives.

"I implore the legislature to release the opioid settlement funds because those funds will be used for treatment and harm reduction that will save lives," said Dr. Kurter.

No word yet on when the next committee meeting on the matter will be held.

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