TOBACCO SETTLEMENT FUNDS: Ballot Initiatives Battle Out Appropriations
Community Memorial Hospital's $1.6 million Measure O campaign, which seeks to grant eligible private hospitals shares of Ventura County's $260 million national tobacco settlement, has "rapidly become the most costly and controversial [campaign] on the fall ballot," the Los Angeles Times reports. Most of the money spent on the campaign has been used of mailers promoting the plan to residents to counter the "lies and distortions" spread by county officials and the media about the measure, Community Memorial Executive Director Michael Bakst said (Kelley/Kelly, Los Angeles Times, 10/6). The Coalition Against Measure O has spent less than $25,000 of the money collected from the government employees union and American Lung Association to combat the hospital's campaign. Under the Measure O financial formula, only three county hospitals would qualify for the funding, with Community Memorial collecting approximately $1.3 million (Koehler, Ventura County Star, 10/6).
Orange County Battles
Meanwhile, Orange County backers of the ballot initiative Measure H have raised $638,000 in their fight to mandate that the county spend 80% of its tobacco settlement money on health care and anti-tobacco programs. The fund-raising effort by the Citizens for a Healthy Orange County - Yes on H -- a coalition of physicians, hospitals and clinics -- demonstrates "their determination to win a pivotal battle on how the tobacco settlement money will be spent," Orange County Medical Association Executive Director Michele Revelle said. County- based hospitals and Tenet Healthcare Corp. have been leading donors in the campaign for Measure H, an initiative supported by the majority of the county's elected representatives. Competing initiative Measure G, supported by County Treasurer-Tax Collector John Moorlach, has raised only $2,000 for its campaign (Reyes, Los Angeles Times, 10/6).