ORANGE COUNTY: Proposes Using $8M of Tobacco Money for Health Initiatives
Orange County officials Wednesday proposed using $8 million of its annual tobacco settlement to increase funding for preventive care programs and community clinics used by the indigent, the Orange County Register reports. The plan calls for a $1 million to $3 million funding increase for clinics that would provide for an additional 43,000 patient visits each year. It would also fund free mammograms, Pap smears, prostate-cancer tests and immunizations for flu, pneumonia, tetanus and diphtheria. Some health care advocates are not pleased by the plan, saying the entire settlement -- more than $30 million -- should be used for health care. Michele Revelle of the Orange County Medical Association (OCMA) said, "It's a good step forward, but nobody in the health care community is going to be satisfied with $8 million." OCMA has joined other groups in gathering signatures to put an initiative on the November ballot that would require the county to spend all tobacco funds on health care (Reed, 3/23). The County Health Agency and the Health Alliance to Reinvest the Tobacco Settlement designed a blueprint on how to spend the $8 million on health care, but also identified an additional $58 million in annual health care needs. Supervisor Cynthia Coad rejected the report and said, "We have met the legal requirements (on health care)" (Reed, Orange County Register, 3/23). In the meantime, the county board is expected to quickly approve its proposal, under which the majority of the settlement would go to retiring bankruptcy debt and expanding jails (Reed, Orange County Register, 3/23).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.