Governor Vilsack says the money cigarette-makers are paying the state should be used on a variety of health care and anti-smoking programs. Vilsack says if done as he proposes, the 55-million dollars from the tobacco settlement will draw down 138-million dollars in federal funds for the state next year. Vilsack proposes spending the money on a wide-variety of health care initiatives, like providing health care insurance to more un-insured kids. Republican legislators want to spend the tobacco-settlement money on one-time projects rather than on-going state operations. Under Vilsack’s plan, only 10-million dollars of the state’s tobacco-settlement money would be spent on anti-smoking programs. Attorney General Tom Miller says, though, about nine-million dollars of federal funds could come the state’s way for the programs.Miller says a similar anti-tobacco plan in place in Massachuesetts has reduced teen smoking by 15 percent — while the teen smoking rate in nearby Rhode Island rose 30 percent.Governor Vilsack says there’s 65-million dollars in federal money available to start a special fund which will help elderly Iowans stay out of a nursing home. The new Iowa “long-term care” fund would be handed out as grants for doing things like converting nursing home space to assisted living facilities.Vilsack says too often nursing home care is the only option for elderly Iowans finding it difficult to live on their own. Vilsack says Iowa needs to perfect the long-term care system, as Iowa has a higher-percentage of elderly than other states.
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