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 programs. 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 safety.
SOURCE California Medical Association