immediate release --March 15, 1999.
Contact Bob Brammer, 515-281-6699
Tells Congress: Leave Tobacco
Settlement Money With States
should be able to spend all the money, Miller says. "The key thing
here is to find a compromise and move ahead. Congress and the Administration
should work this out swiftly and leave the money with the states."
-- The states should be allowed to keep and spend all of the funds obtained
in settlement of their lawsuits against the tobacco industry, Iowa Attorney
General Tom Miller told a Congressional committee today. "Congress
and the Administration should work this out swiftly and leave the money
with the states," he said.
Miller addressed a
Senate appropriations committee on the issue of whether the federal government
should be able to recoup a large portion of the funds obtained in the
"I strongly urge
the Congress to allow states to keep all of the money," Miller said
at the hearing. "This is a fair and just result. The states took
the risks and invested the time, money, and talent. The states brought
the lawsuits to a successful conclusion. The states should receive the
One key issue is whether
or not conditions are placed on how the states spend the money. "The
key thing here is to find a compromise and move ahead," Miller said.
"Let's free up the money for the states so we can start putting it
to good use."
Miller suggested a
reasonable compromise would be to place only one requirement on the funds
-- that some workable portion of it be dedicated to tobacco control and
"Our focus should
remain on the key public policy goal of reducing the death and suffering
caused by tobacco," Miller said. He emphasized again that 5,000 Iowans
die each year from tobacco-related illnesses. "Even in our relatively
small state, about 12,000 Iowa kids become new daily smokers each year
-- and about 4,000 of them will die from tobacco-caused disease,"
information and comment:
The federal government
has a potential claim on a large portion of the settlement, which will
total $246 billion nationwide through the year 2025. Iowa's share is over
$1.7 billion. To the extent the settlement is considered recovery of Medicaid
funds paid for tobacco-related disease in Iowa, the federal government
has a potential claim on up to 65 percent of the funds, since federal
tax dollars fund 65 percent of Medicaid payments in Iowa.
But Miller said the
settlement shouldn't be considered merely a Medicaid recovery. "Our
lawsuit contained several causes of action," he said. "We also
had strong claims under the Iowa Consumer Fraud Act, common law nuisance,
and the new Iowa law concerning ongoing criminal conduct."
Miller said there
is a growing consensus among Iowa leaders -- including the Governor and
legislative leaders -- that Iowa must mount a major tobacco prevention
and control effort. On February 18, Miller and the Tobacco-Free Iowa Coalition
proposed that $17.7 million of Iowa's settlement money should be spent
next year on a Comprehensive Iowa Plan for Tobacco Prevention and Control.
Gov. Tom Vilsack joined them at the news conference and pledged to support
an effective tobacco control program. The $17.7 million program would
use only a portion of the $76.6 million Iowa share next year of the tobacco
act expeditiously on this issue," Miller said. "Delay only adds
uncertainty and confusion. In Iowa, the Governor and the Legislature want
to appropriate the money in a responsible way that benefits our citizens.
They cannot do so until the Congress and Administration act on this issue."
Miller addressed the
Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services
and Education today. The committee is chaired by Sen. Arlen Specter of
The tobacco settlement
money issue is part of Congressional deliberations on the fiscal 1999
supplemental appropriations bill (S544). Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of
Texas succeeded in adding a provision to block the federal government
from taking a share of the $246 billion in settlement funds. It has been
reported that Sen. Harkin and Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois plan to
ask the full Senate to require the states to spend up to 25 percent of
the funds for tobacco-reduction programs.
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