Dare commissioners meet in special sessions on opioid settlement, sale of Home Health and Hospice

Published 7:25 am Tuesday, July 13, 2021

In July, Dare’s commissioners have held two special meetings, one dealing with the opioid crisis and the other with modifications to the asset purchase agreement to sell Dare Home Health and Hospice to BrightSpring.

Meeting on Opioid Settlement:

On June 2, 2021, six commissioners gathered.

County manager Robert L. Outten announced that the commissioners needed to consider a bankruptcy court settlement in the Perdue Pharma case. Outten asked for a closed session to protect the attorney-client privilege.

The session lasted nine minutes. Outten announced that the commissioners gave the attorney guidance.

Three years ago, on April 3, 2018, Dare’s commissioners declared the opioid crisis a public nuisance and signed a contract to pursue civil damages against opioid manufacturers and distributors. At the time, Dare’s opioid death rate was higher than the state’s.

The county signed on with Seagle Law, of Asheville, which represents a nationwide consortium of attorneys.

Subsequent to the Dare commissioners’ meeting, on July 7, a mediator filled a report with the bankruptcy court spelling out agreed upon settlement matters in the bankruptcy case.

On July 8, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein issued a press release outlining the settlement.

North Carolina was one of 15 non-consenting states that dropped opposition after mediation. As broadly outlined by Stein, the settlement agreement ends the Perdue Pharma corporation, the Sackler family, who owned the opioid manufacturer, are banned from ever participating in the pharmaceutical business again and the Sacklers will personally pay $4.5 billion, which is an increase of $1.5 billion over the original plan.

Outten explained in a phone call that a “whole lot of moving pieces” are involved in settling opioid litigation, which has been consolidated in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio under Judge Dan Aaron Polster.

At this point it is unclear whether bankruptcy court settlement will be separate or a part of the consolidated Ohio case.

For North Carolina, settlement funds flowing to the state as a result of settlement of opioid litigation will be governed by a memorandum of agreement between the North Carolina Attorney General and the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners.

Outten helped negotiate that agreement, which sends 80% directly to counties, 15% for General Assembly distribution, and 5% for an incentive fund, all aimed at problems created by the opioid crisis. Any funds will be distributed over time.

The agreement has become a national model, reports Outten.

Modifications to Asset Purchase Agreement:

On Thursday, July 8, the commissioners held a second special session.

At this session, the commissioners considered changes to Section 15 of the asset purchase agreement with BrightSpring.

The changes, to which BrightSpring has agreed, provide more detail about health insurance for current Home Health and Hospice employees who elect to go with BrightSpring. The company has a health insurance policy with multiple plans while Dare is self-insured. The new provisions seek to make sure that Dare employees who go with BrightSpring are not penalized with higher health insurance premiums deducted from salaries.

Dare County is aiming to close the sale by July 31, 2021, with BrightSpring starting business Aug. 1, 2021.

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