Tobacco windfall – Health focus of cash from deal

The $206 billion settlement between 46 states and the tobacco industry is shaping up to be a windfall for health care programs, the Associated Press reports.

Forty-one states are considering 140 bills to support indigent care, insurance for poor families, hospital charity care, children’s health, medical research and community health centers, according to a survey by the National Conference on State Legislatures.

The settlement “has created many opportunities for states that they otherwise would not have had,” William Pound, the group’s executive director, said in a written statement.

States also have targeted money from the tobacco deal for education and childhood development.

The survey looked at possible uses of settlement payments made through April 15.

California, for example, is getting $991.8 million. It plans to expand health programs for poor families, improve hospitals and trauma centers in low-income areas and conduct biomedical research.

Colorado is getting $126.5 million and will use the money to subsidize prescription drugs and pay for primary care to at-risk newborns, AP says.

Minnesota hopes to spend $159 million of its $462 million for stipends for medical students, while New Jersey hopes to use $10 million of its $300 million for mental health services in prisons.

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