Physician Groups Shift Tobacco Settlement Focus from Proposed Statewide Initiative to Legislature and Orange County Ballot

Feb 09, 2000, 00:00 ET from California Medical Association

    SACRAMENTO, Calif., Feb. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- The California Medical
 Association (CMA) and California Chapter of the American College of Emergency
 Physicians (CAL/ACEP) have announced they will not place on the year
 2000 state ballot an initiative to earmark the State of California's
 $500 million share of the National Tobacco Settlement Agreement for health
 care programs. CMA and CAL/ACEP will now refocus their energies on the
 upcoming state budget process to secure an increase in health care funding,
 and on exploring the feasibility of a campaign to place a similar initiative
 on the November 2000 Orange County ballot.
     "We have already made some progress in increasing health care funding in
 California's 2000-01 budget," said Jack Lewin, M.D., CMA's Vice President and
 Chief Executive Officer. "Based on the overwhelming need to shore up the
 state's collapsing health care delivery system, and given the enormous state
 budget surplus, we believe that prospects are good for further health care
 funding budget increases."
     Daniel Abbott, M.D., CAL/ACEP President and an emergency physician in
 Orange County for almost 30 years, said, "This is a good decision. We are
 moving forward with the state budget process. But we believe we might also
 need to get this measure before the people of Orange County, the only major
 county that refuses to invest most, if not all, of these funds into critical
 health care or related programs." Dr. Abbott said a decision on the Orange
 County measure will be made within a week.
     California and its counties are set to receive approximately $1 billion
 annually for the next 23 years from the November 1998 multi-billion dollar,
 multi-state legal settlement with the tobacco industry (divided equally
 between the state and counties). The priorities for health care are very
 similar at both the state and Orange County level, and include funding for
 emergency room care, physicians who provide on-call backup care, hospitals
 that assume a disproportionate amount of uncompensated care, and anti-smoking
     The California Medical Association represents more than 34,000 California
 physicians from all regions, modes of practice and medical specialties. CMA is
 dedicated to the health of all Californians.
     The California Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians is
 a professional association of 2,000 emergency physicians dedicated to ensuring
 quality emergency medical care to over 10 million Californians a year.
 CAL/ACEP is committed to the survival of the collapsing emergency medicine

SOURCE California Medical Association