Why Now?
Sunday, May 22, 2005
  Who Thought This Was A Good Idea?
Would you believe that the Federal government has a rule requiring states providing Medicaid drug coverage to pay for Viagra? Well, how about this MSNBC report: Sex offenders get Medicaid-paid Viagra?
Audits by [New York]Comptroller Alan Hevesi's office showed that between January 2000 and March 2005, 198 sex offenders in New York received Medicaid-reimbursed Viagra after their convictions. Those included crimes against children as young as 2 years old, he said.

Federal Medicaid funding is being reduced and if cuts must be made, the first thing to be cut should be "lifestyle" reimbursements. Reimbursements made by Medicaid have to be prioritized, and I think it is a good deal more important to get preventative and lifesaving care to as many people as possible before we start spending money on "happy sex lives", especially when the drugs involved are over-priced patented products.

Frankly, I would question coverage for Viagra, et al. even if we had a single-payer health system that include dental and vision care. This should be classed with elective cosmetic surgery, like a facelift or permanent eyeliner. In the 1990s the Republicans made sure they we heard more about other peoples' sex lives than most of us cared to know.

Mr. Hevesi has contacted Federal officials about changing the rule, and New York's Senators have said they will get involved if legislation is necessary, but I would question why it took this long for someone to notice, and why that person was a state official. Wasn't John Ashcroft supposed to be on top of this sort of thing? Why wasn't James Dobson watching this instead of SpongeBob's SquarePants?

The New York Attorney General seems to be the only one policing business, and now New York's Comptroller has to police Medicaid. Is there anyone in the Federal government earning their paycheck? Where was the Religious Reich?


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