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Law

Sex offenders get Viagra paid for by Medicaid


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New York
Sex Crimes

NEW YORK (CNN) -- New York's comptroller urged the nation's top health official Sunday to ban high-risk sex offenders and convicted rapists from receiving Viagra paid for by Medicaid.

"Federal, state and local reimbursement for the cost of erectile dysfunction drugs for sex offenders raises serious policy considerations and has the potential to place the public at risk," Comptroller Alan Hevesi wrote Michael Leavitt, secretary of Health and Human Services.

"I am asking that you take immediate action to ensure that sex offenders do not receive erectile dysfunction medication paid for by the taxpayers. I urge you to take administrative action to remedy the situation or draft an amendment to the underlying statute as appropriate," Hevesi wrote.

Hevesi said his office found that from January 1, 2000, through March 31, 2005, 198 Level 3 sex offenders received Medicaid-reimbursed Viagra after being convicted of a sex offense. Sex offenders are those convicted of crimes such as rape, sexual abuse, and sexual conduct against a child.

Level 3 offenders are those considered by the courts most likely to commit crimes again.

According to Hevesi, his office determined in its audit that the victims of the sex crimes during the five-year period ranged from toddlers to a woman as old as 90; and the crimes included first-degree rape.

Hevesi said he also has alerted the State Department of Health, which administers the Medicaid program in New York.

The review has not yet examined whether any of the Level 3 offenders are receiving prescriptions for other erectile dysfunction drugs which came on the market after the 1998 directive.

Hevesi said his office did not look at Level 1 (low) and Level 2 (moderate) offenders.

The New York Sex Offender Registration Act requires the Division of Criminal Justice Services to maintain a Sex Offender Registry, and post a list of Level 3 offenders on the Internet.


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