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VENTURA COUNTY NEWS

Hospitals, County Negotiate Sharing of Tobacco Money

May 19, 2000|MATT SURMAN

A negotiator for six private hospitals said Thursday that the hospitals and the county are talking about potential strategies to share the $260-million tobacco settlement, but that the county had not presented any concrete plan to divvy up the funds.

"We're talking about funding, but no dollar figure has been specifically offered by the county or put on the table by us," said James Lott of the Healthcare Assn. of Southern California after a meeting with Harry Hufford, the county's interim chief administrative officer.

"We've gotten beyond the hurdle needed for this kind of collaboration and produced some ideas about how to support each other," he said. He declined to elaborate, saying nothing discussed at the meeting was yet "tangible."

Thursday's meeting was at least the fourth Hufford has held with the association and individual hospital executives since Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura announced plans in March for a November ballot initiative that would turn the settlement money over to private hospitals. The measure excludes the county from receiving any of the money.

Hufford and county supervisors oppose the measure, and the county's lawyers say they believe it is illegal.

Hufford said only that discussions are continuing. Another meeting is planned for next week.

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