Ventura County Supervisors To Vote on Giving Tobacco Funds to Mental Health Services, County Medical Center
Ventura County supervisors on Tuesday are expected to vote on whether to allocate as much as $5.5 million from the county's share of the national tobacco settlement to several health services, including the Ventura County Medical Center and Behavioral Health Department, the Ventura County Star reports. Under the recommendations, made by a voluntary advisory committee created to determine how to spend the county's tobacco funds, Ventura County Medical Center would receive $3 million and the Behavioral Health Department would receive $750,000. In addition, the committee has recommended providing $900,000 for private hospitals to offset the cost of treating uninsured patients; $900,000 for private doctors to reimburse the cost of treating uninsured patients; and $925,000 for tobacco prevention and education programs. The Star reports that the funds could "help soften" almost $11 million in cuts to federal, state and county funds for health care programs that serve the poor and people with mental illnesses. County Executive Officer Johnny Johnston said, "These tobacco funds will help restore some of these cuts, but it still falls far short of what is needed." Johnston made several separate recommendations, including cutting the allocation to private physicians to $450,000 and the allocation to tobacco prevention and education to $500,000. County supervisors also have the option of using $16.1 million in unused tobacco funds from previous years, but Johnston and the advisory committee have opposed that strategy. Under an ordinance passed by supervisors in 2000, the county must spend the tobacco settlement money on health care (Koehler, Ventura County Star, 10/11).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.