Tobacco Settlement: PA Non-Profits Want Funds Used for Health and Senior Care

Columnist : Lincoln Institute

Harrisburg (PA) – The consensus among non-profit charitable organizations throughout Pennsylvania is that funds from the national tobacco settlement should largely be used for providing health insurance for the uninsured, and for establishing new programs for the elderly.
Non-profit leaders who participated in the Lincoln Institute’s recent Charitable Organizations Survey rejected suggestions that tobacco settlement money be used, at least in part, to give taxpayers’ relief by lowering the state’s income tax, or by helping to pay public education costs.
Efforts by the Ridge Administration to pass its Pennsylvania Health Investment Plan, a blueprint for spending tobacco settlement funds, failed to pass the legislature before it adjourned last November.  Thus, who will benefit from the windfall remains a hotly debated topic.
Lowman S. Henry, Chairman of the Lincoln Institute, said:  “Establishment of a new program to provide health insurance to the uninsured received substantial support from Pennsylvania’s non-profit executives.  Eighty-one percent supported using tobacco settlement money for such a program, 12% were opposed, and 7% offered no opinion.”
Identical percentages also supported the use of tobacco settlement funds for the establishment of new programs to help older Pennsylvanians be cared for in their homes and communities, rather than in nursing homes.
Spending part of the tobacco settlement money on tobacco prevention and cessation program also garnered significant support, 57% favor spending some of the funds on such programs, while 22% are opposed.  Broad-based health research, and investment in health care venture capital also received plurality support among the non-profit leaders surveyed.  Forty-two percent agree that some of the funds should be used for such research, while 33% voiced opposition, and 25% offered no opinion.
Forty-eight percent felt some of the tobacco settlement money should be given to hospitals to help defray the cost of uncompensated care.  Thirty-seven percent opposed giving hospitals part of the money, while 15% had no opinion.