Ventura County Supervisors Approve Plan To Use Tobacco Funds for Mental Health Programs, County Medical Center
The Ventura County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted 4-1 in favor of a plan to allocate $5.5 million from this year's $9.6 million national tobacco settlement payment for several health programs, the Ventura County Star reports. Under the plan, the county will use the funds to "shore up" mental health and hospital programs affected by state and county budget reductions. The plan, based on recommendations from County Executive Officer Johnny Johnston, will use the $5.5 million to fund a "priority safety net" for hospital treatment, care at clinics and psychiatric services, the Star reports (Koehler, Ventura County Star, 10/16). The plan will provide $3 million for Ventura County Medical Center and $750,000 for the county Behavioral Health Department. In addition, the plan will allocate $900,000 to reimburse private hospitals for the cost of care for uninsured patients; $450,000 to reimburse private physicians for the cost of care for uninsured patients; and $500,000 for tobacco prevention and education programs (California Healthline, 10/11). Although a county advisory board also had recommended the use of $16 million in unspent tobacco settlement funds to "bail out" the Ventura County Medical Center and the county mental health system, the board approved Johnston's plan to save the funds for "future major capital outlays." However, the board did approve an allocation of $200,000 in interest accrued on the funds last year for the Ventura County Medical Center, $500,000 for the county behavioral health department and $100,000 for tobacco education and prevention programs. The programs will receive a total of $600,000 this year, half the amount that they received last year. Supervisor Judy Mikels added that private-sector health programs that received tobacco settlement funds this year should not expect to receive such funds in the future (Ventura County Star, 10/16).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.