Ventura County Supervisors Allocate 95% of Tobacco Funds to County Health Programs
The Ventura County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved a plan to allocate $8.6 million, or 95%, of its share of the national tobacco settlement for this year to the county hospital, public health department and mental health programs, the Ventura County Star reports (Wilson, Ventura County Star, 6/16). Under the spending plan, the Ventura County Medical Center will receive $4.3 million for health services, and mental health programs will receive $2.9 million (Cavanaugh, Los Angeles Daily News, 6/15). However, the proposal halved funding for tobacco education and prevention programs, thus reducing spending from $891,900 last year to $437,500 this year (Ventura County Star, 6/16). CDC recommends dedicating 20% to 25% of the settlement funds to such programs. Supervisors said it was necessary to direct the funds to county health services to help "ease the pain of state budget cuts that have gouged public health programs," the Daily News reports (Los Angeles Daily News, 6/15).
A program designed to increase the number of nurses in the county will receive $1 million of the remaining funds. Of that amount, $750,000 will be dedicated to forgivable loans for nursing students; $230,000 will be used to fund the bachelor of science nursing program at California State University-Channel Islands; and $20,000 will be directed to the county Public Health Agency to plan and develop contracts for the program. In addition, $300,000 of the tobacco settlement funds will be dispersed to private-sector hospitals and physicians to cover cost of caring for the uninsured, one-third of the amount they received under the fiscal year 2003-2004 budget (Ventura County Star, 6/16).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.