Pennsylvania Auditor General to Audit State’s Use of Tobacco Funds

The Pennsylvania Auditor General, Eugene DePasquale, recently announced that his agency will audit the state Department of Health’s management of health-research grants financed by tobacco company payments.

The audit will focus on five research facilities that together were awarded nearly $800 million in grants over the past 12 years. They include the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, Geisinger Clinic in Danville, Magee-Womens Research Institute in Pittsburgh, and the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey.

DePasquale said the audit is being done not because of any suspected misdoing, but because an audit hasn’t been performed since the grants were awarded over a decade ago.

Pennsylvania is one of six states that received an adverse arbitration panel ruling concluding that the state apparently failed to properly enforce tobacco laws to collect escrow payments from 2003. Payments to Pennsylvania typically yield more than $300 million a year. The Attorney General’s office, however, believes that the calculation is inaccurate and has filed an appeal.

Over the next 25 years, Pennsylvania is expected to receive an estimated $206 billion from the Master Settlement Agreement of 1998 between the tobacco industry and 46 states.