El Dorado County Supervisors Vote to Spend Tobacco Money on Health Care
Bowing to the "concerns of health care professionals and community volunteers," the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors yesterday voted unaminously to earmark a portion of the county's share of the national tobacco settlement for health care and antitobacco initiatives by 2006, the Sacramento Bee reports. The county stands to receive between $22 million and $47 million over the next 25 years from the settlement. Last year, supervisors "openly fantasized" about using the money to make several civic improvements, such as building a new courthouse. In response, the El Dorado County Health Alliance, a coalition of local health groups seeking greater funding for rural and underserved communities, collected more than 10,600 signatures for a petition to place on the November ballot an initiative that would require the county to spend 85% of the settlement funds on heath care programs and the other 15% on antismoking initiatives between 2002 and 2006. However, the board angered advocates when they kept the initiative off the November ballot and instead set a vote for the spring of 2002. Prompted by health care advocates who "packed the board chambers" on Tuesday, the board -- with three new members, including a "longtime" nurse -- reversed course and ordered county officials to draft a proposal that would "immediately implement" the initiative. Supervisor Rusty Dupray said, "Rather than having a drawn out initiative process, we can just do this at a board level. I think it's the spirit of this board that we need to listen to the community and avoid another initiative." The board's action "ensure[s]" that the county will spend between $7.5 million and $10 million on antitobacco and health programs by 2006. Supervisors still need to allocate the funds to specific health programs (Hecht, Sacramento Bee, 2/28).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.