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Best Practice

Vol. 9, nos. 3 & 4

On Delivery of Legal Assistance to Older Persons

December 1998

The Tobacco Settlement Funds and Aging Programs

The Attorneys General of 46 states, the District of Columbia, and 5 territories have stated their intentions to sign an agreement with the tobacco industry which will bring up to $206 billion to the states in the next 25 years and then additional billions in subsequent years. (Four states -- MS, FL, TX and MN -- had already signed separate settlements for over $40 billion over 25 years.) In short, while the 46 state settlement may have many substantive flaws, once it is consummated, the states will be receiving huge sums of no-strings-attached money. We call this OPPORTUNITY!

The Center for Social Gerontology is available to assist the Aging Network in seeking to assure that older Americans obtain a share of the tobacco settlement funds coming to their state. In most states, this is the time of year that the FY'2000 state budget request is being prepared, and it is in the FY'2000 budget that most states will first be deciding how to spend the tobacco settlement funds. If aging programs are to share in this new funding opportunity, it is imperative that action be taken in the coming weeks and months to get this into the FY'2000 budget and appropriations.

States will be receiving millions of dollars; dollars that were obtained to reimburse the state for Medicaid expenditures for health care costs spent on persons with tobacco-related diseases. Most of these persons were older; and most of the future health care costs the state incurs due to tobacco-related diseases will also be for older persons. TCSG believes that aging programs, particularly health-related ones, should receive a fair share of the settlement funds.

To assist in assuring that aging shares in the tobacco settlement, TCSG is doing the following: