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May 25, 2005

Sex Offenders Receive Viagra on the Tax Payers, Government Reacts

Posted in: Crime,Healthcare,Politics

States have been told to bar Medicaid paid Viagra for sex offenders or face sanction. In a reaction to the hideous story that came out earlier this week that sex offenders were receiving Viagra and other similar medications paid on the tax payer’s dime; lawmakers moved Tuesday to eliminate this disgraceful loophole.

Lawmakers moved Tuesday to eliminate federal payments for Viagra and other drugs that treat impotence, as a federal agency warned states that they could face sanctions if they don’t end Medicaid coverage for such drugs for convicted sex offenders.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services estimated Tuesday that Medicaid spends about $38 million a year on erectile dysfunction drugs, all but $2 million for Viagra.

More than 400 convicted sex offenders in New York and Florida were reimbursed for the drugs. The Medicaid agency issued its directive after New York Comptroller Alan Hevesi announced Sunday that from 2000 through March, 198 rapists and other high-risk sex offenders in New York received Medicaid-reimbursed Viagra after their convictions.

It is hard to imagine that such a loophole could be overlooked in the initial bill. I’m glad our legislators are looking at laws from all angles.

Providing the drugs to sex offenders could “constitute fraud, abuse or inappropriate use of Medicaid funds,” he wrote.

“Failure to perform such a review and implement appropriate controls may result in sanctions,” the letter said.

I am going to go one further an applaud Senator Charles Grassley, R-Iowa proposal. Medicaid was not intended to be all things to all people. It is to provide minimal care to those who cannot afford healthcare. There are far greater medications, services and better usage of Medicaid funds that could be provided to Medicaid recipients than Viagra. There are commercial group insurance paid plans that don’t cover such medications, why should tax payers have to pay for others to have this drug covered? Let’s just say there is a better Medicaid “bang for the buck”, that should be implemented and Senator Grassley is on the right path.

That’s too much for Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, who introduced legislation that would eliminate all federal payments, both Medicaid and Medicare, for these drugs.

Absent a ban, he said, Medicaid and Medicare would spend $2 billion on impotence drugs between 2006 and 2015.

“We live in a world of limited resources, and those dollars could be spent more wisely,” said Grassley, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

Legislation introduced in the House in early February with 29 co-sponsors would exclude coverage for Viagra under the Medicare prescription drug benefit.

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