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VALLEY PERSPECTIVE

Committees Give More Public Access to Settlement distribution

In the wake of Measure O, county officials want to open lines of communication with hospitals, private health care providers to ensure that concerns are addressed.

November 12, 2000|JUDY MIKELS | Judy Mikels represents District 4 on the Ventura County Board of Supervisors

Now that Measure O has been defeated and the tobacco settlement funds are unconstrained, the Board of Supervisors is committed to moving forward with our strategic tobacco settlement plan.

The board is and has been serious about committing the tobacco settlement funds to health care. It has already allocated these funds to an account to be spent on health care this fiscal year. These funds will provide and expand health care in our community.

To enable us to get these funds out into the community, we need to appoint members to both the Finance Oversight / Advisory Committee, and the Evaluation and Allocation Oversight / Advisory Committee.

The Finance Oversight / Advisory Committee will have three members appointed by the Board of Supervisors on the recommendation of the chief administrative officer.

Their duties and responsibilities will be to review the program allocation plan, program recommendations and program evaluation as presented by the Evaluation and Allocation Oversight / Advisory Committee.

The Finance Oversight / Advisory Committee is to determine the amount of available funds from the tobacco settlement revenues and investments.

This committee will also provide funding recommendations to the Board of Supervisors based on program emphasis, funding availability and performance criteria, with the objective of achieving the overarching goals for these funds.

The committee is to review, identify and assure that all potential leveraged resources from state, federal and local charitable organizations are being utilized in the implementation and funding of the strategic plan, and work with staff in establishing and updating the rolling five-year strategic plan.

The Evaluation and Allocation Oversight / Advisory Committee shall be comprised of 11 members appointed by the Board of Supervisors. The duties and responsibilities of this committee shall include:

* On an annual basis, determining and recommending to the Finance Oversight / Advisory Committee service and funding priorities and allocations in accordance with the objectives and goals of the strategic plan.

* Performing an annual review of the performance of the strategic plan to the planned budget and achievement of the performance criteria by program area.

* Working with staff in establishing and updating the rolling five-year strategic plan.

The ordinance passed by the board gives structure to the strategic tobacco settlement plan. Both committees need to start their work as soon as possible to build on that structure to give the plan the dimension it needs for the community's health care needs.

The committees are important in helping create a plan that responds to the needs of the community. The committees will work closely with the community, health care providers and private hospitals to ensure that the funds are placed where they'll be most effective.

By creating these committees, the Board of Supervisors has given the public more points of access to the process. The public can go to any of these committee meetings as well as come to the board to make requests and state concerns.

We need to make this a fair and open process to ensure that something like Measure O doesn't happen again.

Another immediate need is to open lines of communication with all of the hospitals and private health care providers to ensure that their concerns are addressed.

The county and private hospitals must work together to meet the health care needs of the citizens of Ventura County. When Family Health Care Medical Group closed its doors, it displaced thousands of patients. These patients were forced to seek medical treatment at the local hospitals.

The county is the safety net for health care and was able to help these patients by allowing them to use county facilities. This helped alleviate crowding at emergency rooms and is providing a sense of security to those patients until they are able to find new permanent health care providers.

The county was able to fill a need and help the community, a responsibility I take great pride in. In the long run, we will need the help of private health care providers to manage and take over these displaced patients.

This is the kind of relationship that needs to be fostered between the county, private health care providers and private hospitals.

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