Twenty additional Wisconsin counties are now suing pharmaceutical companies for expenses they’ve had to burden to deal with the opioid crisis. That brings the total number of counties suing to 48 in Wisconsin.
They say companies that make painkillers like percocet and oxycotin have engaged in fraudulent marketing of those drugs — and that that’s at the root of the opioid epidemic.
As counties look to the pharmaceutical companies to recoup their losses, lawmakers are stepping in.
Representatives yesterday unveiled a package of bills aimed at improving the foster care system — which caseworkers and foster parents say has been strained thanks to the opioid crisis. An Assembly task force on foster care has come up with 13 bills that they say would help address some of the system’s most pressing concerns.
They include tuition remission at UW schools for students who were in foster care and efforts to encourage more adults to become foster parents. They would also streamline certain processes to make fostering and adoption easier.
Task force cochair Representative Patrick Snyder says increased drug use has been instrumental in creating demand in the foster care system.
“The out-of-home placement of kids has really skyrocketed,” Snyder says.
One of the bills would set up a 400,000 dollar grant program for counties, nonprofits and tribes to help them provide incentives, reimbursement and education to foster parents.
Another bill aims help caseworkers, who Snyder says have felt tremendous pressure thanks to increased demand from the drug crisis. It sets up a legislative study to work with counties on how to ease caseworkers’ burdens.
“We’ve learned that the burnout and turnover of caseworkers affects out-of-home care for kids,” Snyder says.
Lawmakers say the bills will be formally introduced next month.