VENTURA COUNTY: Community Memorial Submits Signatures for Ballot Initiative
Community Memorial Hospital took another step yesterday in its attempt to divert control of Ventura County's $260 million tobacco settlement to private hospitals, submitting one month ahead of deadline nearly double the signatures necessary to get the proposed initiative on the November ballot. CMH officials collected 38,519 signatures from registered county voters, but needed only 21,000. The hospital hopes the successful signature drive "indicates potential popular support for the measure in November." CMH spokesperson Mark Barnhill said, "We feel tremendously gratified that the initiative has been embraced so broadly throughout the county. It indicates there is a strong support among voters, as well as a keen understanding of the need to spend the tobacco funds on health care and not to pay fines or reduce debt or other non-health care purposes." But Supervisor John Flynn believes that "growing support" exists for county control of the settlement funds, pointing to the Ventura County Medical Society's recent stand against the CMH proposal. He said, "Community Memorial must be ... sweating ... right now, because many of the doctors have taken a position against the initiative. When you get practitioners against it, you have to question it." He added that he still hopes to strike a compromise. County election officials have 30 days to verify the collected signatures (Blake, Los Angeles Times, 5/9).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.