ORANGE COUNTY: Health Advocates Want Vote on Settlement
Health advocates who want Orange County to allocate the majority of its tobacco settlement money to health care filed a proposal Wednesday that would get their plan on the November ballot, the Orange County Register reports. The Citizens Health Alliance to Reinvest the Tobacco Settlement would like the county to spend 80% of the expected annual award of $30 million to $38 million on health care. County supervisors have proposed spending 80% of the money on debt reduction and additional jail beds (Enders, 2/25). The coalition's proposal would allocate 19% of the annual settlement to senior health programs; 20% to community and hospital clinics; 23% to emergency room and on-call physicians; 12% to anti-smoking, substance abuse and mental health programs; and 6% to hospitals for uncompensated care in emergency rooms. The remaining 20% would go to law enforcement. Jon Gilwee, spokesperson for the Healthcare Association of Southern California, said, "The initiative is about money that should be spent on health care and not other non-health related issues. It is about doing the right thing with the money." However, Supervisor Todd Spitzer called the measure "a shortsighted response," adding, "Debt reduction is the board's number one priority." To qualify for the November ballot, the alliance needs 71,206 registered voters to sign the initiative by the end of May (Los Angeles Times, 2/24).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.