Medicaid recipients can't tap tobacco money

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled Medicaid recipients who smoke can't tap Nevada's tobacco settlement money.

The court affirmed a ruling by U.S. District Judge Howard McKibben, who dismissed the lawsuit seeking part of the settlement money.

"The state pays for health care for Medicaid recipients, including the additional health care costs for those among them who smoke," said Senior Deputy Attorney General John Albrecht.

Attorney General Frankie Sue Del Papa said any person, including Medicaid recipients, can sue tobacco manufacturers for damages.

"The (tobacco settlement) funds were not intended to remedy that and, with this decision, Nevada may continue to spend the funds in the manner in which the Legislature determines," she said.

Nevada lawmakers have divided up the state's share of tobacco funds for health care and prescriptions for seniors, education and enforcement and the Millennium Scholarship program.

Albrecht said the decision affirms that, as Congress intended, no part of the money is at risk for lawsuits by smokers seeking damages.


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