A New York audit showed 198 sex offenders received such drugs through the state/federal health-care program for the poor and elderly since 2000. Shortly thereafter, President George Bush moved to close the loophole that lets sex offenders to receive drugs such as Viagra, Levitra, and Cialis through the program.
The federal action caused Florida's Attorney General to leap quickly onto the bandwagon. Chain-gang Charlie" Crist's staff concluded that over the last four years 218 Florida sex offenders received Viagra, costing $93,000. Crist said 77 percent of those had committed sex crimes involving minors.
Chain-gang Charlie, who announced his candidacy for Florida governor in May 2005, is a known prisoner basher. In the 1990s as a state senator, Crist was on the get tough on crime" set and pushed legislation reinstituting chain-gangs, increased penalties and prison populations, and decreased recreational and educational programs in prisons. With a recent abduction and murder of three young Florida girls, Crist has been getting ample mainstream media mileage on the backs of released sex offenders.
Crist's drum beating called out Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who called for a ban on Viagra for all poor people. I don't think the Medicaid budget ought to be used for any of this, for anybody -- certainly not sex offenders," Bush said.
The decision to ban just sex offenders from receiving the pills was all but required by a May 23, 2005, letter from the head of the federal agency regulating Medicaid. The letter threatened states with sanctions if they provide sex offenders with the pills.
Other states quickly jumped into the fray, revealing 788 cases of sex offenders receiving Viagra and other impotence drugs. Among these are Florida, 218 cases; New York, 198; Texas, 191; New Jersey, 55; Virginia, 52; Missouri, 26; Kansas, 14; Ohio, 13; Michigan, 7; Maine, 5; Georgia and Montana, 3 each; Alabama 2; North Dakota, 1. The numbers surveyed varied among the states, from six months to five years.
Some doctors disagree with the approach to ban such drugs to Medicaid/Medicare recipients, saying that to allow older people or the ill to maintain a sex life encourages them to lead a healthier lifestyle.
States that have imposed a ban on coverage of erectile dysfunction are effectively lumping thousands of victims of crippling disease with criminals," said Dr. Richard Akins, chief executive officer of the National Prostate Cancer Coalition. Viagra and similar medications are not a lifestyle' drug for these people.
In March, 2006, Florida law makers introduced legislation that would make it a criminal offense for people convicted of sex offenses to possess or use impotence drugs such as Viagra or Cialis. State Senator Carey Baker likened it to laws that ban felons from voting or possessing firearms.None of these proposals however concede that people convicted of a sex crime can have, or are entitled to fulfilling sex lives that do not involve criminal acts. In the case of governor Bush, apparently poor people who have not been accused of a crime are not entitled to a sex life either.
Sources: The Seattle Times; Palm Beach Post; The Miami Herald.
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