Friday, May 27, 2005
On this day:

State Medicaid Erects a New Barrier

Alabama's Medicaid Director says that the state Medicaid agency will immediately stop providing Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs to sex offenders. According to Medicaid officials, "only two sex offenders in the state had received Medicaid-reimbursed erectile dysfunction drugs in fiscal 2004." That's two too many.

Going one step further, Sen. Charles Grassley (R. - Iowa) has introduced a bill that would eliminate all federal Medicaid and Medicare funding for these types of drugs. Grassley said, "Some certainly may argue that these 'lifestyle' drugs can improve your life. I appreciate that view. However, we live in a world of limited resources. In that world of limited resources, coverage of these 'lifestyle' drugs under Medicare -- or any other federal program, in my opinion -- is inconsistent with that goal of balance."

Grassley's proposed legislation couldn't come at a better time. According to the Washington Times:
The federal body that governs Medicare ruled earlier this year that, under the 2003 Medicare overhaul bill, the program will begin paying for drugs to treat erectile-dysfunction in January.

The Congressional Budget Office reported last week that Medicare spending on impotence drugs would total $1.93 billion over 10 years, with $730 million being spent in the first five years. After 2010, the CBO estimate shows spending
increasing by $20 million a year and figures that the government will be
spending $280 million a year by 2015.