VENTURA COUNTY: CMH Pushes for Measure O Through Radio Ads
In the continuing fight over Ventura County's $260 million tobacco settlement, Community Memorial Hospital has released new radio ads urging voters to support Measure O, the ballot initiative that would divert the funds to seven private hospitals, the Los Angeles Times reports. Intended to convince listeners that the hospitals would make better use of the funds than the county, the ads "pointedly remind voters that the county is under FBI investigation for overbilling Medicare" throughout most of the last decade. Noting that the money is "a real chance to improve health care," one ad points out that the county Board of Supervisors already has "squandered" the first $3 million installment on a legal settlement in the Medicare case and has not "spent a single penny of it on health care." Designed to cover the government's cost of treating smoking- related illness, the settlement does not require the county to spend the funds on health care. Measure O opponents criticized the ads and CMH. David Maron, chair of the Coalition Against the Hospital Initiative, said the group cannot "compete with Community Memorial's money," but plans to send out mailers and organize protests outside the hospitals. Maron said, "The issue is that a private hospital is using out-of-town lawyers and lobbyists to try and take our county's money. They will spend everything they can on this." Maron said he hopes voters will "see through the ads" and realize that CMH will "simply use [the funds] to pay off the costs of caring for the uninsured and indigent" (Kelly, 8/22).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.