FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 23, 2005
Schumer Announces Legislation To Stop Sex Offenders From Receiving Medicaid Reimbursement For Viagra
Senator Also Calls on CMS to Survey of All Drugs that Sex Offenders Might Be Able to Receive That They Shouldn’t
Yesterday, State Comptroller Hevesi and Senator Charles E. Schumer stood together after the Comptroller’s office made the shocking discovery in a routine audit that level three sex offenders – those with the highest rate of recidivism – received Medicaid reimbursed Viagra. Today U.S Senator Charles E. Schumer announced legislation to stop this dangerous reimbursement to sex offenders and called on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to conduct a survey of all drugs that sex offenders might be able to receive through Medicaid, but shouldn’t.
“The bottom line is, giving convicted sex offenders Viagra is like giving convicted murderers an assault rifle when they get out of jail,” Schumer said.
The loophole is a result of a 1998 directive from HHS that mandated that Medicaid cover Erectile Dysfunction drugs when medically necessary. The State audit found that during a routine review of Medicaid pharmacy expenditures, that some sex offenders were receiving Medicaid-reimbursed Viagra. The auditors matched the names of just Level 3 sex offenders that are listed on the internet with the names of those receiving the Viagra Medicaid Benefit.
The states audit looked into the first three months of 2005, (January, February, and March) and found 198 Level 3 sex offenders received Medicaid Reimbursed Viagra after committing a sex crime. The crimes ran the gamut from first degree rape to sexual touching and the victims ages ranged from 2 to 90. Level 1 and Level 2 offenders were not included in the audit as they are not listed in the Internet.
“The fact that some of the most dangerous perpetrators are allowed access to Viagra on the taxpayer’s dime is mind boggling. In my 30 years in government I’ve rarely seen anything that reaches this level of lunacy,” Schumer said. “We have only scratched the surface, if there are nearly 200 level 3 sex offenders receiving this benefit in New York, the numbers across the country are going to be much much higher.”
To put a stop to this menace today Schumer introduced a bill that would stop Medicaid reimbursement for erectile dysfunction drugs for all sex offenders, levels 1 through 3. Schumer wrote a letter on Mark McClellan, Administrator of CMS to work with FDA and any other relevant agencies to assess whether there are other Medicaid reimbursed drugs that sex offenders have access to that could exacerbate the rate of recidivism.
“I can only hope that this problem isn’t more extreme. My fear is that we’ll close this loophole only to find that there are others that are just as dangerous,” Schumer said.