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American Legacy Foundation Steps Forward to Fight For, Safeguard Ohio's Tobacco Settlement Dollars
Date:4/21/2008

an Legacy Foundation found that Ohio's Medicaid system could save nearly $550 million within five years if all Medicaid beneficiaries who smoke, quit. Ohio would reap the third largest savings of all the states, making the case that during this economic downturn in Ohio, by keeping these funds focused on tobacco control would in fact be a wiser long-term investment, ultimately saving Ohioans' lives and money.

The MSA provided over $200 billion to be paid to the states over 26 years in recognition of the lives and money lost to tobacco. To ensure that these monies were spent specifically on tobacco control, Ohio established OTPF as the recipient of their funds, and purposely safeguarded them there, outside the auspices of the State Treasury. Most states have spent only a small fraction, if any, of their MSA funds to mitigate the tragic impact of the tobacco epidemic which claims the lives of over 400,000 Americans each year. Now, Ohio is poised to reverse course, joining a growing number of states to deplete these monies for purposes for which they were never intended, squandering precious opportunities to, literally, save lives.

The dispute has been ongoing for the past few weeks. It began when plans were announced to fund an economic stimulus package in part with funds taken from OTPF. OTPF's Board courageously responded by authorizing contracts for $190 million with up to three named organizations in order to assure that the work of tobacco control in Ohio would continue to benefit Ohioans. On April 8, OTPF entered into a contract for this amount with the American Legacy Foundation and provided the state treasurer with instructions to transfer the funds. Later that day, the governor signed into law legislation seeking to liquidate OTPF's endowment. The treasurer did not make the requested payment.

On April 9, OTPF filed a lawsuit asserting that the legislation liquidating its funds violated Ohio constitutional and other legal requirement
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SOURCE American Legacy Foundation
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