SAN DIEGO: Proposal Floated To Fund Cancer Center With Tobacco Monies
Plans for a preeminent cancer center that features collaborative efforts by regional hospitals and research centers are the latest target for San Diego County's $945 million tobacco settlement windfall, the San Diego Union- Tribune reports. Supporters of the plan point to a lack of coordination and expertise among regional hospitals that often forces cancer patients to seek care elsewhere. Advocates for the poor are also applauding the $100 million center because the measure requires that the medically underserved be included in clinical trials there. However, "the county's five supervisors first must commit to spending all the tobacco money it will receive on health as opposed to crime prevention or other issues," the Union-Tribute notes. County Health Director Dr. Robert Ross voiced caution about the plan, noting that there are "other vehicles for cancer research" in the area. The county's Regional Healthcare Advisory Council voted unanimously Friday to back Ross' plan for the money, which would use the money to improve health care access, education and prevention efforts and innovation. "The safety net of services for the poor, the indigent and the growing numbers of uninsured is in dire need of an infusion of resources," said Ross, adding, "Mental health, substance abuse and primary-care services are all resource-starved and merit substantial consideration for funding." The Board of Supervisors will vote on the matter June 15 (Clark, 5/15).
Drawing a parallel between tobacco use and cancer research, a San Diego Union-Tribune editorial advocates using settlement funds to construct the cancer center, noting that "[t]hree of every 10 Americans will die of cancer," translating to 850,000 San Diego County residents. "This is the sixth- largest city, the tenth-largest metropolitan district and the second-most-populous county in the USA," Dr. David Tarin, head of UC-San Diego's Cancer Center, wrote in the proposal, noting that San Diego "does not have a regional cancer center although many smaller regions do." The editorial cites support from Supervisors Dianne Jacob and Ron Roberts, who propose "that 10% of the county's projected $1 billion in anticipated tobacco settlement money over 25 years go toward" the center. The piece concludes, "But considering that smoking is a leading cause of cancer, it is hard to think of a more appropriate way to spend a small portion of the tobacco money" (5/15).