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The CMA Position

In contrast to the voluntary health agencies, which demonstrated commitment to all programs, the CMA was soft on the issue of funding programs other than medical services. Although the CMA signed the January 1991 letter to Isenberg, on November 10, 1990, the CMA Council had adopted a recommendation that the existing Proposition 99 expenditure patterns be extended “until CMA's affordable basic care proposal or a similar proposal is implemented.”[11] AB 75 distributions were acceptable only until the money was needed to pay for indigent health care. According to CMA Resolution 9021-90,

(1) CMA supports funding of tobacco education programs through the years 1990 and 1991, as approved by the voters of California in Prop. 99. (2) CMA will monitor the progress of the State's evaluation of the effectiveness of the

Prop. 99 health education account. (3) CMA will work in conjunction with the legislature and with other groups interested in tobacco education and access to care, toward the goal of utilizing tobacco tax revenues for access to care as soon as feasible, while maintaining adequate funding for tobacco education.[12] [emphasis added]

The council had reiterated its basic position that using Health Education dollars for public health programs was an interim measure, that funding health care was the preferred policy, and that anti-tobacco education was entitled only to “adequate” funding, not “full” funding.

In 1990, when chief CMA lobbyist Jay Michael was questioned about CMA policy by Lester Breslow, a member of the TEOC and former dean of the UCLA School of Public Health, Michael responded, “The CMA's policy relating to the distribution of Prop 99 monies until June 30, 1990, was consistent with our long-range policy relating to the ultimate use of Prop 99 funds in the future. …CMA's general policy for the short term was to ensure that physicians received their fair share of the health care funding provided by Prop 99, which was intended to temporarily patch up our health care delivery system until such time as an overall solution can be achieved to address our most serious health care problems.”[13] He went on to reiterate the CMA position emphasizing that $30 million is enough to mount a massive campaign in the schools and that a public media campaign is not likely to be effective.[13-15]

The CMA was also prepared to contest the evaluation data that showed the programs' effectiveness. When interviewed in 1993, Michael expressed his attitude about the evaluation:

Did you read the study that was done by the Department of Health Services or commissioned by the Department of Health Services? I think that's a sloppy study; it's undocumented; the conclusions, or the data do not support the conclusions. …Why? Because the money was vulnerable to being diverted to other purposes in a tight state budget year. And they were desperate and it was a survival response. And I don't fault them for that. I've been in this business for a long time, and that's the way people behave. It's very hard to be judgmental about things like that. …But to cloak their biased stacked study in objectivity is offensive to me. …The issue is: is that the most cost-effective way to use that money to improve health and to reduce the amount of tobacco addiction? And I don't think that study has ever been made. As an advocate of the point of view that it ought to be given to health care providers and health care providers should be educated, trained to get people to stop smoking, I'm advocating that. I don't have a clue as to whether that's the most cost-effective way to use the money. I'm saying it ought to be evaluated along with every other kind of use of that money by someone who really does an objective

job. And the money shouldn't be split up on the basis of these hokey trumped-up biased advocates for a particular interest group.[16]

For the public health groups, or the “dread disease organizations,” as Michael called them, these comments were not those of someone who wanted to maintain the status quo.

The CMA's most immediate concern was to prevent any drop in money for health services. The “maintenance of effort” clause in Proposition 99, which required that the new tobacco tax money be used to supplement rather than replace existing state funding, was an issue in the fall of 1990. The 1990-1991 state budget had reduced funding for county Medically Indigent Service Programs and for Medical Services Programs. According to the CMA Council minutes, most counties believed that they could not maintain existing levels of service and thus would not be able to qualify for Proposition 99 funds, so they had asked to have the maintenance of effort requirement waived for fiscal year 1990-1991. The CMA went on record as opposing any waiver of maintenance of effort requirements.[17]

At the same time, on November 1, 1990, the Tobacco Institute was also planning its 1991 legislative strategy for neutralizing Proposition 99. The main goal was to “divert the media funds,” and the institute saw a chance to achieve this diversion:

The decrease in revenues will increase the competition for funding in the 91-92 budget among the various program elements. Additionally, California is expecting a shortfall of as much as $2 billion, possibly more, in the next fiscal year. That will tempt the new administration and the Legislature to supplant existing general fund revenues with Proposition 99 revenues where appropriate programs exist. The women, infants and children and the health screening programs are appropriate programs since they contain anti-tobacco education elements and would satisfy the dictates of Proposition 99… .

Proposition 99 revenues are down which will pit the sponsors of the initiative against one another as they seek funding for their favorite programs. Confusion and animosity will result. …A coalition of interests could be built to chase the media money. The nucleus of such a coalition could be the minority health communities which feel not enough of the Proposition 99 money is getting to the streets. Other coalition members would be the rural counties, a few of which are facing bankruptcy. Public hospitals desperately need money to fund trauma centers. Other interest groups would join the chase if they thought the money were in play.[18] [emphasis added]

Rather than battling Proposition 99 in the open, the tobacco industry would help orchestrate other interests who wanted the money. The industry

would remain in the shadows, making campaign contributions and lobbying the administration and the Legislature out of the public eye.

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