Groups Propose Tobacco Tax Increase for Health Funding
The California Hospital Association along with a coalition of health associations and children's advocacy groups are organizing separate campaigns to increase the state tobacco tax to fund health care programs, the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal reports. Each proposal would generate about $1.4 billion annually.
The CHA proposal, called the Emergency Services and Tobacco Tax Act of 2006, would use 65% of the funds, or about $900 million, to fund emergency department services at hospitals. According to CHA, emergency departments often treat patients with diseases associated with tobacco use. CHA states that hospitals are losing money as more uninsured patients are treated in EDs and that government reimbursement rates are inadequate.
A coalition that includes the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association, the American Heart Association and children's advocacy groups has proposed a separate measure -- the Tobacco Tax, Disease Prevention and Children's Health Insurance Act of 2006 -- that would use 33% of funds from the tax for research, treatment and prevention programs for diseases associated with smoking, such as cancer, heart and lung disease and stroke. Thirty-two percent of the revenue would be used to fund children's health insurance programs. The remainder would be used primarily for tobacco prevention and nurse training programs.
The coalition says funding for tobacco control programs has declined in recent years and needs to be restored.
Both groups say preliminary polls have found California residents support an increase in the tobacco tax (Cutland, Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal, 11/4).