The Center for Social Gerontology
2307 Shelby Avenue, Ann Arbor, MI 48103 tel: 734 665-1126 fax: 734 665-2071
This section of the web site of the National Center for Tobacco-Free Older Persons of The Center for Social Gerontology (click on our Home Page below for more information about TCSG) contains regularly updated information on what is happening in states regarding the almost $250 billion the tobacco industry must pay to the states over the next 25 years as a result of the settlements they have signed to resolve Medicaid lawsuits filed by the states. The payment schedule is also on our web site. The information included focuses mostly on how the tobacco settlement funds are being directed toward programs for two major purposes: aging programs and tobacco control programs. Immediately below, we present highlights from 2000 settlement fund allocations, some with links to news articles.
STATES IN WHICH SETTLEMENT FUNDS HAVE BEEN ALLOCATED IN 2000 FOR AGING or TOBACCO CONTROL PROGRAMS: (SEE BELOW FOR SPECIFICS OF WHAT EACH STATE HAS DONE):
AGING: California: City of San Jose - $2.5 million for Senior Services; Colorado - 1% of settlement funds, or about $1 million annually, for health needs of aging veterans; Delaware - $7.5 million for prescription drugs for elders and $1.5 million for in-home services for elders under the Medicaid waiver program, which should be matched by about $2 million of federal funds, for FY'01; Georgia - $8 million in settlement funds, plus about $5.9 million in federal matching funds, plus over $3 million in new state funds due to advocacy for the settlement funds for FY'01; Illinois - $35 million in FY'01 for prescription drug assistance for elders, plus $1.8 million for senior health services; Indiana - $20 million in FY'01 for prescription drugs for elders; Iowa - about half of $1.5 million in FY'01 going to counties for home care for elders; Maine - $10 million for FY'01 for prescription drugs for elders; Michigan - over $61 million for FY'01, plus about half of the $6 million going to Community Foundations for programs for children and elders; Nebraska - at least $130,000 for a senior nursing clinic; Nevada - $450,000 for FY'01 and 02, plus 30% of the overall settlement funds to go for prescription drugs and in-home care for elders; New Jersey - $61 million in FY'01 for prescription drugs and in-home care for elders; New York - for the EPIC prescription drug program for elders -- $107 million in calendar year 2000, plus a $55.4 million expansion in EPIC starting Oct. 1, 2000, plus $164 million in 2001, plus $189 million in 2002, and $324 million in 2003; Ohio - $12 million over next 12 years for prescription drugs for elders, with about $1 million for FY'01; Oklahoma - $36.2 million in FY'01 largely for health care services, including nursing home care, for elders; South Carolina - $20 million for prescription drug assistance for elders, and possibly millions more for senior services for FY'01.
TOBACCO CONTROL: Alaska - $1.4 million for FY'01; California: San Francisco - $1 million; California: City of San Jose - $2.5 million; Colorado - 15% annually, or about $15 million in FY'01, of the total settlement funds; Delaware - $3 million for FY'01; Georgia - $15.8 million for FY'01; Illinois - $29.5 million in FY'01; Indiana - $35 million for FY'01; Kansas - $500,00 for next fiscal year; Iowa - $9.3 million for FY'01; Kentucky - about $5.5 million for next two years; Maine - $18.3 million, plus $3.5 million in matching federal Medicaid funds, for a total of $21.8 million; Maryland - $30 million annually for the next ten years; Massachusetts - $12.1 million for FY'01; Nebraska - $7 million annually for next 3 years; Nevada - $600,000 for FY'01; New Hampshire - $3 million for FY'01; New Jersey - $30 million for FY'01; New Mexico - $2.225 million for FY'01; New York state - $30 million for FY'00, and $40 million in each of following three years; New York: Dutchess County -$500,000 for FY'01; New York: Livingston County - $45,000 for FY'01; New York: Monroe County - $500,000 for FY'01; New York: Suffolk County - $1.5 million for FY'01; Ohio - about $1.25 billion over next 12 years, including about $30 million for FY'01; Oklahoma - $2 million to be matched with about $4.5 million in federal and other funds; South Carolina - $1.75 million; South Dakota - $800,000 for FY'01; Texas - about $9 million for FY'01; Utah - $4 million in FY'01 and possibly another $2 million when lawsuits over legal fees are resolved; Vermont - $6.65 million for FY'01; Virginia - $11.8 million from last year's alloction of 10% of the overall settlement funds; Washington - $15.5 million for FY'01; West Virginia - $2 million.HIGHLIGHTS FROM 2000
REPORTS ON TCSG SITE ON STATE'S USES OF SETTLEMENT FUNDS: On October 5th, the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee held a special hearing to review how states have been allocating their tobacco settlement funds. Senator John McCain said he felt states were not living up to their responsibilities to use a significant share of the funds for TOBACCO PREVENTION AND CESSATION PROGRAMS. The hearing provided a forum for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and the National Conference of State Legislatures to release reports they had compiled detailing how states were spending their settlement funds. A news article on the hearing and links to the CTFK and NCSL reports are available from the Recent Tobacco Settlement Funds News section of TCSG's web site; to access, click here. FEDERAL COURT NARROWS JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SUIT AGAINST TOBACCO INDUSTRY, BUT CASE STILL STRONG: On September 28th, Federal District Court Judge Gladys Kessler dismissed two counts in the lawsuit filed by the Justice Department against the tobacco industry. The judge threw out claims under the Medical Care Recovery Act and provisions of the Medicare Secondary Payer statute, saying these laws were not intended to be used to recover the costs of health care due to tobacco-related diseases. Importantly, however, the judge has allowed the Justice Department to proceed with the case under the Racketeer Influenced & Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), which, if successful, would make the tobacco industry responsible for damages in the billions of dollars. Under RICO, the tobacco industry could be required to turn over the billions of dollars it has obtained from tobacco consumers since the early 1950s through fraudulent and deceptive marketing practices. The victims of these deceptive practices are largely today's older Americans. Many consider the RICO claims to be the strongest of the claims in the Justice Department case, thereby still making this case a grave threat to the tobacco companies. . See news article. DELAWARE ALLOCATES FUNDS FOR AGING & TOBACCO CONTROL: We're a bit late reporting on it, but, the Delaware legislature followed the recommendations of the Delaware Health Fund Task Force and allocated tobacco settlement funds for a variety of purposes. AGING PROGRAMS were major winners, obtaining $7.5 million for PRESCRIPTION DRUGS FOR ELDERS, and $1.5 million for IN-HOME CARE FOR ELDERS under the Medicaid waiver program, meaning these funds should be matched with close to $2 million in federal Medicaid funds. Thus, AGING PROGRAMS should reap about $9 million in settlement funds and $2 million more in matching funds, for a total of about $11 million in FY'01. TOBACCO CONTROL PROGRAMS were allocated $3 million for FY'01, which is less than desired, but a start for a comprehensive tobacco control effort. [National Conference of State Legislatures report, August 1, 2000] MICHIGAN AGING ADVOCATES SCORE AGAIN, INCREASING SETTLEMENT FUNDS ALLOCATION ABOVE LAST YEAR: When the Michigan legislature completed work on the FY'01 budget, AGING ADVOCATES had again won big in gaining settlement funds for health programs for needy older persons. A total of $61,021,4000 was allocated, plus about half of the $6 million of settlement funds that will go to Community Foundations for programs to foster healthy children and elders; a total of over $64 million. Of the $61 million, $33 million will go for the PRESCRIPTION DRUG PROGRAM FOR ELDERS, $20 million for MEDICAID SERVICES FOR ELDERS; $5 million for RESPITE CARE FOR ELDERS; and over $3 million for the LONG TERM CARE ADVISOR PROGRAM in the Office of Aging. In addition to the settlement funds, aging services received a $54 million increase in Medicaid waiver funding, through a combination of state and federal funds, and $1 million for a new in-home care program for persons slightly above Medicaid levels. In FY'00, aging programs had received $53 million in settlement funds (see 1999 Highlights and Michigan below for more on this), plus about half the $6 million which went to Community Foundations. While this was again a great victory for aging advocates, the governor and legislature for the second year in a row refused to allocate any settlement funds for TOBACCO CONTROL. The vast share of settlement funds again went for college scholarships and a bio-tech research corridor project. [TCSG sources, July 25, 2000] DOES THE ENGLE VERDICT POSE STATE SETTLEMENT FUND PROBLEMS? Media folks in many states on July 14th immediately began asking Attorneys Generals if the Engle verdict awarding $145 billion would have any effect on the settlement funds the states expect to receive. Many AGs said they were watching the situation, and that the National Association of Attorneys General had retained counsel to examine the issue of what would happen to the settlement funds if an award, such as the Engle one, forced the tobacco companies into bankruptcy. Some AGs, such as Attorney General Mark Pryor of Arkansas said they were quite worried about this. Others, including we at TCSG, view the bankruptcy cries as Nervous Nellie yelps which parrot the tobacco industry line. Our biggest concern is not that the state settlement funds are at risk, but that well intentioned public officials will be swept along by this scare tactic and will seek state or federal legislation to, of all things, protect the tobacco industry and their ability to continue to market an unsafe product and reap profits at the expense of the victims of tobacco. [July 15, 2000] ENGLE JURY AWARDS $145 BILLION TO FLORIDA SMOKERS/FAMILIES: In a record-setting verdict on July 14th, returned after less than 5 hours of deliberations in a trial that has lasted over two years for all its phases, a six-member jury has awarded $145 BILLION in punitive damages to an estimated 300,000 to 700,000 Florida smokers and their surviving families. Most of these persons are older, with the vast majority being 50 years old and older. The award, of course, will be appealed by the tobacco companies, and the appeals are likely to stretch for a couple of years. But, the message is clear: this jury saw the tobacco industry as merchants of death, and they have said the time has come for them to pay for their actions.
The $145 billion in damages is to be divided among the defendants as follows: Philip Morris, $74 billion; R.J. Reynolds, $36.3 billion; Brown & Williamson, $17.6 billion; Lorillard, $16.25 billion; Liggett, $790 million; and two separate tobacco industry groups, $2.2 billion. A year ago the same jury had awarded a total of $12.7 million in compensatory damages to the three named plaintiffs.
There will much "spinning" of this verdict by the tobacco industry and their favored Wall Street analysts, but the jury's voice is clear and will resonate louder than any "spin doctors." The world is changing for the tobacco companies as Americans all across the country recognize that the tobacco cartel is a rogue industry that must be brought to justice. It took a long time for people around the globe to recognize that apartheid in South Africa was totally unacceptable, but when enough people finally "got it," apartheid was denounced and eliminated. The same handwriting is now on the wall of the tobacco cartel.
For an early news report on the jury verdict, go to news report.
NEW YORK ALLOCATES MULTI-MILLIONS FOR ELDER DRUGS PROGRAM & FOR TOBACCO CONTROL: Ferreting out what the New York legislature had done with the tobacco settlement funds was a bit like trying to nail Jell-O to the wall. But, the end result was a HUGE VICTORY FOR ELDERS AND TOBACCO CONTROL ADVOCATES. According to key legislative sources, the following allocations were made with the tobacco settlement funds. When the Health Care Reform Act was passed in the winter of 1999, $30 million in settlement funds were allocated for FY'00 for TOBACCO PREVENTION & CESSATION PROGRAMS, with $40 million to be so allocated in each of the next 3 years. In addition, settlement funds were substituted for general revenues funds for the EPIC PRESCRIPTION DRUG PROGRAM FOR ELDERS, in the following amounts: $107 million in calendar year 2000; $164 million in 2001; $189 million in 2002; and $324 million in 2003. Plus, when the FY'01 budget was passed in early May, it included an expansion in the EPIC program, using $55.4 million in settlement funds, which expansion will cost increasing dollars in subsequent years; this expansion will cut prescription drug costs for existing EPIC participants and open the program to 80,000 additional older New Yorkers. These are huge victories for AGING AND TOBACCO CONTROL ADVOCATES. [TCSG sources in N.Y. and press releases from N.Y. Assembly Speaker Silver, May 26, 2000, and Senate President Bruno, May 2 & 3, 2000, and Governor Pataki, May 5, 2000] ELDER ADVOCATES SCORE BIG IN SOUTH CAROLINA: On June 22nd, the South Carolina legislature completed work on the FY'01 budget, and SENIOR CITIZENS emerged as key victors in the fight for settlement funds. A new PRESCRIPTION DRUG PROGRAM FOR ELDERS was funded with $20 million of settlement funds. The legislature agreed to a compromise with Governor Hodges on the settlement fund allocation and also agreed to securitize the settlement funds by issuing bonds backed by the $2.3 billion the state expects to receive over the next 25 years, in return for an up-front $1 billion. Of the $1 billion the state expects to receive, 73% is to go for health services, including PRESCRIPTION DRUGS FOR ELDERS and a substantial amount for the Medicaid program which also serves ELDERS, 15% is to go to tobacco farmers (in addition to the Phase II settlement funds they get), 10% for rural economic development, and 2% for local governments for sewer and water projects. TOBACCO PREVENTION & CESSATION PROGRAMS received just $1.75 million for FY'01, which is much less than the $11 million the governor had sought. Elder advocates in the S.C. Silver Haired Legislature deserve major credit for their advocacy for elder programs in this recent session; without their campaign, the legislature would never have voted as they did for the prescription drug program. [The State, June 22, 23 & 25, 2000; The Sun News, May 18 & 29 & June 25, 2000, state budget documents, and TCSG sources, July 4, 2000] CITY OF SAN JOSE ALLOCATES $2.5 MILLION EACH TO AGING AND TOBACCO CONTROL: On June 13th, the San Jose City Council voted to approve the budget for the coming year and voted to allocate the expected $10 million annual settlement payments as follows: 50% for education; 25% for AGING SERVICES; and 25% for ANTI-TOBACCO PROGRAMS. This will provide about $2.5 million each for aging and tobacco control programs. California is one of three states which, in their settlement agreement, specified that a certain share of the settlement money would go to counties and some cities, as well as to the state (New York and Texas are the other two states). San Jose is the first sub-state entity which has voted to use some of the funds for AGING SERVICES. (See more below under California.) [San Jose Mercury News, June 14, 2000] OKLAHOMA AGING ADVOCATES PASS HISTORIC HEALTH CARE BILL WITH SETTLEMENT FUNDS AS CATALYST: In the final day of the legislative session, AGING ADVOCATES, with key support from the House and Senate leadership saw HB 2019 passed.; the governor is expected to sign the bill on June 6th. The Oklahoma 2001 Healthcare Initiative, as it is called, utilizes $36.2 million in settlement funds already received by the state to launch an overall $260 million initiative which will fund significant increases in fees for health care services for the most needy ELDERS, children and other adults in the state, including particularly older persons in nursing homes. The legislation also includes a number of significant reforms in the way nursing homes will be inspected and monitored, including funding for 10 additional regional Nursing Home Ombudsmen. It also appears that $2 million in settlement funds will be allocated for TOBACCO PREVENTION AND CESSATION programs for children and adults, and that this will be matched with $4.5 million in federal and other funds. Plus, as a result of passage of HB 2022, an initiative will go on the November ballot to allow voters to decide to allocate a major share of the settlement funds to a trust fund for funding of health care programs; a major victory for TOBACCO CONTROL AND AGING ADVOCATES. The big question is whether the governor will sign a third bill, HB 2313, which would establish a framework for a major TOBACCO PREVENTION AND CESSATION program; he has until June 10th to decide. (See more below under Oklahoma.) [TCSG sources, June 5, 2000] DEMOCRACY IN ACTION OR PUBLIC POLICY PARALYSIS? Have we gotten a sudden burst of democracy in action, or have we got a bad case of public policy paralysis when it comes to allocating the tobacco settlement funds? In the past few months, we have seen more and more state legislatures and counties (in states where some settlement funds go directly to the counties), giving up on passing legislation which designates how the settlement funds will be spent. In some cases, this is with the support of aging and/or tobacco control groups, and elsewhere it's not, but it's viewed as the only viable solution. Louisiana citizens already voted last year on such a ballot initiative. Currently, the following states or counties either have moved to place initiatives on the fall ballot or are likely to do so: Arizona, Arkansas, California in Orange, Ventura and possibly other counties, Montana, Oklahoma, Oregon and maybe a few others I've forgotten. Missouri's legislature tried to do this, but couldn't even get agreement on this, to say nothing about agreement on how to spend the settlement dollars. In many of these places, aging and tobacco control groups are prime forces behind the ballot initiatives; generally because policymakers have refused to support legislation which would allocate significant funds to health care-related programs, including to tobacco prevention & cessation programs. Whether this is the best way to make public policy is an open question, but it is a clear reflection of the willingness of governors and legislatures to treat the settlement funds as general revenues which can be used for any purpose they desire, rather than for health programs related to tobacco use and secondhand smoke. Since the settlement funds have come to the states with no strings attached, the governors and legislators may be on firm ground legally, but they're standing in mud ethically. And, now the voters in a number of states will have a chance to show where they stand. Currently, polls in Arizona, California and elsewhere suggest that voters may be on the ethical side of this issue, but winning voter initiatives is costly and no sure thing. However, some of these initiatives, if passed, as in Oklahoma, will only be able to be changed by another voter initiative; which means that the legislator's abdication of responsibility could truly bind them to policies for spending funds that they don't fully support, but which the health, aging and tobacco control communities do support. One word of caution, however; some of the voter initiative language is quite broad, so it may provide politicians with a great deal of wiggle room later on regarding how to actually allocate the funds, even if the ballot initiatives are passed. To see what's happening in the states mentioned above, go to the specific state updates. [TCSG commentary, June 1, 2000] GEORGIA AGING & TOBACCO CONTROL ADVOCATES GARNER SETTLEMENT FUNDS: In March, the legislature finished work on the state budget and allocated the settlement funds as well. Included in the budget were significant victories for AGING & TOBACCO CONTROL ADVOCATES. While advocates wanted more, $15.8 million of settlement funds was appropriated for TOBACCO PREVENTION & CESSATION PROGRAMS. Overall, AGING PROGRAMS received over $17 million in a combination of settlement funds and state and federal funds, as follows: $4.2 million in settlement funds was allocated for the COMMUNITY CARE SERVICES PROGRAM FOR ELDERS UNDER THE MEDICAID WAIVER PROGRAM, with the settlement funds matched with an additional $5.9 million in federal Medicaid funds for this program for a total of $10.1 million; and, $3.8 million in settlement funds for NON-MEDICAID HOME & COMMUNITY BASED SERVICES FOR ELDERS. Thus, $8 million in settlement funds was allocated for AGING programs, plus the $5.9 million in federal matching funds for an overall total of $13.9 million. In addition, aging advocates stated that the availability of settlement funds for Home & Community Based Services allowed legislators to provide additional general revenues funds for other AGING programs, including expansion funds for the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program, almost $1 million for Adult Protective Services, and almost $1 million more for new adult Medicaid eligibility workers. Thus, AGING programs garnered over $17 million in combined settlement, state and federal matching funds due to the advocacy for settlement funds. For more info, see Georgia below. [TCSG sources in Georgia, May 23, 2000] MAINE SETS THE NEW STANDARD - TOBACCO CONTROL & AGING VICTORIES: On April 25th the legislature completed work on a supplemental budget for the biennium which included the final word on how to allocate about $100 million of the initial tobacco settlement fund payments; the governor immediately signed the bill. In the process, Maine set a new standard for per capita spending levels for TOBACCO PREVENTION & CESSATION PROGRAMS using settlement funds; about $22 per capita. The budget provides a total of about $21.8 million for TOBACCO CONTROL PROGRAMS for the coming fiscal year, starting July 1, 2000; of that amount, about $18.3 million is settlement funds and the other $3.5 million is federal Medicaid matching dollars. In addition, the legislature added $5 million more dollars to the $5 million they had voted last year for PRESCRIPTION DRUGS FOR THE ELDERLY, for a total of $10 million for the fiscal year covering July 1, 2000 through June 30, 2001. Both the tobacco control and the prescription drug allocations are expected to be annual appropriations at at least these levels. These are tremendous victories control and the prescription drug allocations are expected to be annual appropriations at at least these levels. These are tremendous victories for TOBACCO CONTROL and AGING ADVOCATES. Much credit is due to House Speaker G. Steven Rowe (D) for his leadership on this, as well as to Governor Angus King (I) for also being committed to seeing the settlement funds devoted largely to health-related programs. For more on this, see Maine below. [Portland Press-Herald, April 30, 2000 and TCSG sources in Maine, May 1, 2000] ILLINOIS ALLOCATES MILLIONS FOR TAX CUTS AND FOR AGING & TOBACCO CONTROL: In the fiscal year 2001 budget passed on April 15th, the legislature allocated $686 million of the settlement funds. The largest share of the funds went for tax relief, including $280 million for property tax relief, as well as $225 million for a reserve fund. However, $35 million was allocated for PRESCRIPTION DRUG ASSISTANCE FOR ELDERS, and $29.5 million was appropriated for TOBACCO PREVENTION & CESSATION PROGRAMS. The tax relief allocations drew angry responses from some legislators and health groups who said more of the funds should have gone for programs dealing with tobacco-related health issues. See more under Illinois below. IOWA ADVOCATES ACHIEVE MAJOR VICTORIES: On April 20th, Iowa advocates scored major victories in the legislature with passage of tobacco settlement legislation allocating $9.3 million for TOBACCO PREVENTION & CESSATION PROGRAMS for the coming year. Also, the legislature designated $20.7 million of the settlement funds to expand access to health care, especially in rural areas, by increasing reimbursement rates for health care providers under Medicaid and other state health programs; this should benefit ELDERS as well as children and others on these programs. Plus, the legislature voted to ban distribution of all free promotional items (such as hats, shirts, mugs, etc.) by the tobacco industry to persons of any age; and, a bill was enacted to penalize both minors who purchase tobacco products and the retailers who sell to minors, with the possibility of retailers losing their license to sell tobacco products. A very good session for tobacco control advocates and aging advocates as well. See more under Iowa below. NEBRASKA WINS $21 MILLION OVER 3 YEARS FOR TOBACCO CONTROL: In a major victory for tobacco control advocates, on March 29th, Governor Mike Johanns signed LB 1436 which allocates $21 million over the next 3 years ($7 million annually) to TOBACCO PREVENTION & CESSATION PROGRAMS. This will fund a comprehensive tobacco control program directed at children and adults. The legislation, sponsored by Senator Ardyce Bohlke, puts Nebraska in a leading position in terms of per capita spending on tobacco control efforts, with an average of $4.19 for every man, woman and child in the state. [Omaha World Herald, March 29, 2000 & Lincoln Journal Star, March 30, 2000] NCTFOP PRESS RELEASE ON INDIANA & OHIO VICTORIES: On March 5th, the National Center for Tobacco-Free Older Persons issued a press release praising the advocacy efforts of AGING and TOBACCO CONTROL groups in Indiana and Ohio for early victories in 2000 in obtaining settlement funds for both TOBACCO CONTROL and AGING PROGRAMS. See press release. BIG VICTORIES FOR INDIANA TOBACCO CONTROL and AGING ADVOCATES: On March 3, 2000 both houses of the Indiana legislature passed a settlement spending plan which will allocate more than $110 million over the next year for a variety of health-related programs. Under the bill, which the governor is expected to sign, beginning on July 1st, $35 million will be available for TOBACCO PREVENTION & CESSATION PROGRAMS and $20 million will fund a PRESCRIPTION DRUG PROGRAM FOR ELDERS, as well as funding for a number of other health-related programs. These allocations are a part of the overall settlement plan which states that in this first year, half the settlement payments can be spent and the other half will be invested; in future years, 60% will be available to be spent and 40% will be invested. Of the funds which are to be spent on TOBACCO CONTROL, there will be an executive advisory committee established to decide how the funds will be spent, and the committee will have an executive director or tobacco czar. Also, there will be a drug advisory committee that will make recommendations on how to run the PRESCRIPTION DRUG PROGRAM. For more info, go to Indiana (below) and see news article. OHIO ADVOCATES WIN BIG ONES FOR TOBACCO CONTROL AND AGING PROGRAMS: TOBACCO CONTROL ADVOCATES won a huge victory on Feb. 16, 2000 when the Ohio House and Senate passed compromise legislation which will allocate about $1.25 billion of settlement funds over the next 12 years to TOBACCO PREVENTION AND CESSATION PROGRAMS. This is about 10-12% of the total amount Ohio expects to receive in settlement funds. AGING ADVOCATES also have reason to cheer, both for the money going for tobacco prevention & cessation, but also for the up to $12 million over the next 12 years to go for PRESCRIPTION DRUGS AND OXYGEN FOR LOW-INCOME ELDERS. The battle for the latter funds was especially intense, since the Senate leadership opposed starting such a new program. See more below under Ohio. CLASS ACTION LAWSUITS TO BE FILED IN EIGHT MORE STATES SEEKING SETTLEMENT FUNDS DIRECTLY FOR MEDICAID RECIPIENTS On Jan. 26th, coordinated class action lawsuits are to be filed in eight states - GEORGIA, NORTH CAROLINA, PENNSYLVANIA, RHODE ISLAND, SOUTH CAROLINA, TENNESSEE, VERMONT, & WEST VIRGINIA - maintaining that, under the federal Medicaid law, any amount of tobacco settlement funds the states receive above the amount they paid through the Medicaid program to treat tobacco-related diseases should go to Medicaid recipients who suffered from tobacco-related diseases. These suits are similar to suits filed previously in CALIFORNIA, FLORIDA, MONTANA, TEXAS and WISCONSIN. The amount of money involved is unknown at this time, but the lawyers say it is likely to be billions. In Wisconsin, the federal district court dismissed the case, based on the sovereign immunity of the state from lawsuits; this is on appeal. In California, the state court has issued a tentative ruling suggesting the claims are valid; a more definitive ruling is expected shortly, and whoever loses is sure to appeal. The implications of these lawsuits could be substantial, because, if successful, they would be likely to require the states to make direct cash payments to millions of Medicaid recipients. On the other hand, many consider these suits to be very long-shots; but, so were the original sits which resulted in the almost $250 billion tobacco settlements. These are suits to watch, which is what many governors and legislators will also be doing. For more, see news article.