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HomeNewsArchivesUNDERSTANDING THE TOBACCO SETTLEMENT

UNDERSTANDING THE TOBACCO SETTLEMENT

According to Act No. 6220, dated March 3, 1998, the 22nd it was the consensus of the Legislature that the U.S. Virgin Islands should "…file a lawsuit to recoup funds spent on smoking-related health care costs." Section 1 (b) states further, "The Governor of the Virgin Islands, acting through the Attorney General, on behalf of the Government of the Virgin Islands, is authorized and directed to sue the tobacco industry for reimbursement of smoking-related health care costs." The bill notes that other such actions had already been filed. Those filings and the statistics that are available from the Department of Health relating to tobacco smoking-related health care costs became part of the basis for the suit filed by the U. S. Virgin Islands against the tobacco industry.
Through the National Association of Attorneys General, a settlement was reached and the Virgin Islands were included in the package. Based on information which is available at the National Association of Attorneys General website at www.naag.org the total sum scheduled to be received by the Virgin Islands is $34,010,102.11. The Virgin Islands will receive these funds in annual payments over a period of twenty-five years. The average annual receipts will be $1,280,000.00.
In advance of a tobacco settlement, Act No. 6220 further states in SECTION 2, "Fifty percent (50%) of all monies collected in connection with any lawsuit or settlement…shall be deposited in to the Union Award and Government Employees Increment Fund, …. The other fifty percent (50%) shall be deposited into the Health Revolving Fund…" This section further stipulates that " …fifty percent (50%) of the sum deposited tothe Health Revolving Fund shall be designated for use by the Governor Juan Luis Hospital on St. Croix with the remaining fifty percent (50%) being designated for use by the Governor Roy Lester Schneider Hospital on St. Thomas and the Myrah Keating Smith Clinic on St. John."
The League of Women Voters has not yet received a full breakdown of the terms and conditions of the tobacco settlement. On Monday, July 19th at Noon at L'Escargot Restaurant, the League will host a luncheon meeting. Deputy District Attorney General Alva A. Swan, the guest speaker, will advise those present on the terms and conditions of the settlement. The League of Women Voters is also interested in learning what the Attorney General's suggestions may be regarding the possible uses of these funds. The League also needs to know whether there are any "strings" or special strictures in the settlement regarding the use of these funds.
Various groups have raised concerns that all of any tobacco settlement awards should be used for smoking-related health-care, anti-smoking education, health care for the indigent, or for senior citizens who may have to travel off island to receive medical care. Another suggestion is that a portion of the fund be used as part of the match for the annual Medicaid grant.
Once all of these ideas, suggestions and facts have been collected, the League will then be able to review them and develop a position statement. A statement from the League of Women Voters including recommendations regarding the use of the Tobacco Settlement funds will be forthcoming shortly after the luncheon meeting of July 19, 1999. For information and reservations for the luncheon meeting on July 19th, please contact Ms. Eleanor Cerge at 776-9357, or Ms. Elizabeth Delagarde at 779-0287.
Editors' note: Erva Denham is the President of the V.I. League of Women Voters.

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According to Act No. 6220, dated March 3, 1998, the 22nd it was the consensus of the Legislature that the U.S. Virgin Islands should "...file a lawsuit to recoup funds spent on smoking-related health care costs." Section 1 (b) states further, "The Governor of the Virgin Islands, acting through the Attorney General, on behalf of the Government of the Virgin Islands, is authorized and directed to sue the tobacco industry for reimbursement of smoking-related health care costs." The bill notes that other such actions had already been filed. Those filings and the statistics that are available from the Department of Health relating to tobacco smoking-related health care costs became part of the basis for the suit filed by the U. S. Virgin Islands against the tobacco industry.
Through the National Association of Attorneys General, a settlement was reached and the Virgin Islands were included in the package. Based on information which is available at the National Association of Attorneys General website at www.naag.org the total sum scheduled to be received by the Virgin Islands is $34,010,102.11. The Virgin Islands will receive these funds in annual payments over a period of twenty-five years. The average annual receipts will be $1,280,000.00.
In advance of a tobacco settlement, Act No. 6220 further states in SECTION 2, "Fifty percent (50%) of all monies collected in connection with any lawsuit or settlement...shall be deposited in to the Union Award and Government Employees Increment Fund, .... The other fifty percent (50%) shall be deposited into the Health Revolving Fund..." This section further stipulates that " ...fifty percent (50%) of the sum deposited tothe Health Revolving Fund shall be designated for use by the Governor Juan Luis Hospital on St. Croix with the remaining fifty percent (50%) being designated for use by the Governor Roy Lester Schneider Hospital on St. Thomas and the Myrah Keating Smith Clinic on St. John."
The League of Women Voters has not yet received a full breakdown of the terms and conditions of the tobacco settlement. On Monday, July 19th at Noon at L'Escargot Restaurant, the League will host a luncheon meeting. Deputy District Attorney General Alva A. Swan, the guest speaker, will advise those present on the terms and conditions of the settlement. The League of Women Voters is also interested in learning what the Attorney General's suggestions may be regarding the possible uses of these funds. The League also needs to know whether there are any "strings" or special strictures in the settlement regarding the use of these funds.
Various groups have raised concerns that all of any tobacco settlement awards should be used for smoking-related health-care, anti-smoking education, health care for the indigent, or for senior citizens who may have to travel off island to receive medical care. Another suggestion is that a portion of the fund be used as part of the match for the annual Medicaid grant.
Once all of these ideas, suggestions and facts have been collected, the League will then be able to review them and develop a position statement. A statement from the League of Women Voters including recommendations regarding the use of the Tobacco Settlement funds will be forthcoming shortly after the luncheon meeting of July 19, 1999. For information and reservations for the luncheon meeting on July 19th, please contact Ms. Eleanor Cerge at 776-9357, or Ms. Elizabeth Delagarde at 779-0287.
Editors' note: Erva Denham is the President of the V.I. League of Women Voters.