New York Comptroller Alan Hevesi announced Sunday that 198 convicted sex offenders have received Viagra through New York state Medicaid funds since January of 2000. The next day, Florida Attorney General Charlie Christ said that Florida’s Medicaid program has funded Viagra prescriptions for 218 convicted sex offenders over the past four years. Other states have also been investigating their Medicaid programs to see whether sex offenders have been receiving Viagra at the cost of the state.
In 1998, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) directed states to provide Medicaid coverage for Viagra when “medically necessary.” The CMS revealed this week that Medicaid programs pay out $36 million each year for Viagra. It is unclear how many sex offenders have received Medicaid funding for Viagra nationally since 1998. However, Hevesi’s spokesperson, David Neutadt, has said that he believes policies on Viagra are similar from state to state, the Associated Press reported.
Following Hevesi’s announcement, the federal Department of Health and Human Services released a letter to state Medicaid directors saying that state Medicaid programs “should restrict the coverage of such drugs” and warned that states could face sanctions if they do not “review and implement appropriate controls” to prevent convicted sex offenders from obtaining Viagra through Medicaid funds.
Media Resources: Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services 5/ 23/05; The Associated Press 5/23/05, 5/24/05, 5/25/05; New York State Office of the State Comptroller 5/22/05
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .