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feminist wire | daily newsbriefs

May-26-05

Medicaid Funding Viagra for Sex Offenders

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


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