Pa. auditor general's office to examine tobacco-settlement research funds

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State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale announced today that his office will "audit the way the state Department of Health oversees nearly a billion dollars of tobacco settlement funds used by health research facilities across the state."

Two of the institutions that are scheduled to be a part of the audit are connected to the UPMC system — Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and Magee-Womens Research Institute. He made the announcement this morning at the Allegheny County Courthouse. 

“These funds are intended to fuel health care research that could help people live longer, healthier and more rewarding lives. We have to make sure these research programs are meeting expectations so that nothing jeopardizes their vital mission or erodes public confidence,” Mr. DePasquale said in a statement issued this morning.

According to the statement, "the state Department of Health is responsible for awarding and overseeing tobacco funds in the Commonwealth Universal Research Enhancement Program, known as CURE. The audit will examine if funds from a 1998 landmark tobacco settlement are being used as intended." 

In addition to Children's and the Magee research center, a sampling of grants issued to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the Geisinger Clinic, and the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center will also be examined. 

Over the last 12 years, the Department of Health awarded $797.5 million in CURE grants, supporting 1,900 research projects. 

“We need to make sure we are getting the best health care outcomes possible with such a large investment,” Mr. DePasquale said in his statement.

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