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Lawmakers Hear Suggestions for Fund for a Healthy Maine

AUGUSTA, Maine — The Legislature's Health and Human Services Committee is reviewing how the state spends the $55 million a year it gets as a result of the settlement against the tobacco companies for their lying about the health impacts of smoking for decades.

Maine distributes that money through the Fund for a Healthy Maine for a wide range of programs — the largest allocation helps pay for the state's health program for the poor, Medicaid.

Ed Miller of the American Lung Association of Maine suggested the state do a better job of allocating within Medicaid.

"Maybe put some earmarks on that," he says. "Do it for some specific prevention purposes that are going to return investment on that money. You are going to be able to see that it was a good deal."

Others told lawmakers money from the fund is crucial to providing services, particularly those that can use the fund to match for additional federal dollars, such as child care programs.

The panel is supposed to recommend how the fund should be spent to the January session of the Legislature.