County allocates tobacco money
The estimated $17 million a year Alameda County will receive will go for health-related capital projects, health initiatives for children and indigent people and on public health.
About half of Alameda County's share of the nation's $246 billion tobacco settlement will be spent on programs for youth, health coverage for the poor and public health.
The board of supervisors Tuesday approved a funding plan for the estimated $17 million a year the county will receive from the settlement, the result of a lawsuit filed by states trying to recover costs of treating sick smokers.
About half of the county's share will go into funds for health-related capital projects. The rest, about $8 million a year, will be spent on health initiatives for children, the indigent and on public health.
The funding plan includes:
$2 million a year for school health clinics and a program for at-risk youth.
$2 million for anti-tobacco and other public health campaigns, including AIDS prevention and dental care expansion for seniors and children.
$2 million to insure poor residents seeking mental health treatment and substance abuse services.
$2 million to provide health insurance for the poor.
Perhaps the biggest recipients of the settlement are the 7,000 workers in the county who provide daily-living assistance to the sick and elderly. The county's contribution of $1 million of the settlement to provide health insurance for these workers will be met with a $5.5 million contribution from the state.
The workers spent much of the year locked in contract negotiations with the county over pay and benefits. They won a 25 percent pay increase, placing their hourly wage at $7.82, as well as an agreement from the county to provide health insurance.
``Just a few years ago, they received no benefits and made minimum wage,'' said Brad Cleveland, organizer for United Service Employees, Local 616. ``It's an enormous turn for the better.''