* Voters decided two years ago, by passing Proposition 99, to support federal tobacco settlement dollars being spent on health care. Recent California Medical Assn. polls show that voters still feel that way. But voters certainly do not need yet another ballot measure that would divert funds--albeit not yet dedicated to any specific programs or departments--to one or more private hospitals.
That is why Community Memorial Hospital's proposed voter initiative concerns us. An initiative sets in stone how the money will be spent and by whom. The county needs, instead, flexibility that will work decades down the road.
This ballot initiative, put forward by Michael D. Bakst, Community Memorial's executive director, offers no provisions for spending this money on mental health programs or non-acute, preventive health care.
Ventura County supervisors have expressed a desire to spend the money on health care. We very much want the patients, physicians and hospitals to benefit appropriately.