Effort begun to shift tobacco money to women's health
State Sen. Jane Orie today said she is launching an initiative to shift more state health spending to women's health concerns and, as part of that effort, hopes to keep $180 million in tobacco settlement money from being diverted to the general fund.
The General Assembly last year directed that all of the state's share of the national tobacco settlement be spent on health-related programs, but the budget proposal released this week by Gov. Mark Schweiker calls for redirecting $180 million to help cover general fund expenses.
Keeping that money dedicated to health programs is important if Pennsylvania is to focus more attention on women's health, Orie said at a news conference at Magee-Womens Hospital.
The McCandless Republican is sponsoring a resolution that calls for the state Health Department to establish a women's health office to raise awareness of women's special needs and encourages more spending on women's health issues in general.
"It's going to be an uphill battle," she acknowledged. But she and her cosponsors will be lobbying the governor and their fellow legislators to improve the state's health policies and programs. Last year, a study placed Pennsylvania 29th among all states in women's health programs and rated the state "unacceptable."