TOBACCO FUNDS: Medical Group Will Drop Initiative Pushing for Health Care Spending
California's medical establishment has abandoned a November ballot initiative that would have forced state and county authorities to spend the tobacco settlement on health care, the AP/San Diego Union-Tribune reports. The American College of Emergency Physicians and the California Medical Association, among others, wanted the ballot initiative because they were disappointed that Gov. Gray Davis (D) placed the tobacco receipts in California's general fund -- not in a health care fund, as originally intended. "We have decided to delay the initiative for two years to see if we can make some progress with the Legislature (on the windfall's use)," California Medical Association spokesperson Hobie Swan said. As part of a multistate settlement with tobacco companies, California is expected to receive $25 billion over 25 years from the 1998 litigation. Almost half of the money will go to the state's 58 counties and four cities, as outlined in the settlement. According to the preliminary state budget, California will receive $387.9 million this fiscal year and Davis' budget added $25.7 million to the state's antismoking campaign, more than doubling the fund. In defense of Davis' move, spokesperson Michael Bustamante noted that the Governor was opposed to the initiative because his administration is already "pouring hundreds of millions of dollars" into antismoking campaigns (1/29).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.