Ventura County Supervisors Vote to Spend Some Tobacco Settlement Funds on Health Care Programs
Ventura County supervisors yesterday approved spending $8 million of the county's share of the national tobacco settlement to expand health care programs, "keep[ing] $15.7 million from prior years' payments in a reserve account for now," the Los Angeles Times reports. The largest allocation, $2.6 million, will go to the Ventura County Medical Center to provide care for the uninsured. Private hospitals and physicians will "divide up" $900,000 to pay for treating indigent patients. In addition, the county's Behavioral Health Department will receive $750,000 "to provide housing for the mentally ill and to start up a psychiatric residency program" at Ventura County Medical Center to "attract top-flight psychiatrists" and to increase the "opportunity for state and federal funding of projects there." The new spending will also cover the cost of 50 defibrillators, which will be placed in county buildings. About $1.2 million, or 15% of the $8 million, will go toward anti-tobacco programs. When distributing the funds, the county Board of Supervisors closely followed recommendations offered by a citizens advisory committee established earlier this year to "oversee the distribution" of the estimated $250 million that the county will receive over the next 25 years from the tobacco settlement. Last year, efforts to allocate the settlement money were sidetracked by Measure O, an "attempted raid ... by private hospitals" that "would have shifted control" of the funds "from supervisors to private health care providers," the Times reports. Voters, however, defeated that ballot measure in last November's election (Saillant, Los Angeles Times, 9/26).
Meanwhile, Orange County supervisors yesterday agreed to allocate $5.7 million of the county's tobacco settlement money toward a "coalition of community clinics" that provide care for low-income individuals, the Times reports. According to Marty Earlabaugh-Gordon, executive director of the Coalition of Orange County Community Clinics, the funding will "help support 29 clinics operated by 17 organizations." The clinics served 133,000 people during 366,000 visits last year (Martelle, Los Angeles Times, 9/26).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.