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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 May, 2005, 09:19 GMT 10:19 UK
Offenders 'can be denied viagra'
New York State Comptroller Alan Hevesi
Alan Hevesi is calling for a change in the law
US states have been told they do not have to pay to provide the impotence drug Viagra to convicted sex offenders.

The move comes after an audit found 198 convicts in New York state had been reimbursed by Medicaid for the drug between January and March 2000.

Their crimes included offences against children as young as two.

The Medicaid programme, whose cost is shared by states and the federal government, provides health care for the poor.

The federal Centres for Medicare and Medicaid Services said they should not pay for erectile dysfunction drugs for sex offenders.

Spokesman Gary Karr said "states already have the power to determine if a drug is not medically appropriate for a certain patient or certain class of patients", the Associated Press news agency reported.

'Public risk'

The New York audit, conducted by Comptroller Alan Hevesi, did not cover other states, but Mr Hevesi said states are required by law to include Viagra in Medicaid programmes covering prescription drugs when medically necessary.

Giving convicted sex offenders government-funded Viagra is like giving convicted murderers an assault rifle when they get out of jail
Senator Charles Schumer

He said the policy raised "serious policy considerations and has the potential to place the public at risk" and asked the government to take administrative action or amend the Medicaid law.

On Monday, Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist said that Medicaid had paid $93,000 to provide Viagra to 218 sex offenders in that state over the last four years, AP reported.

New York Senators Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton have both indicated they back a change in policy.

Sen Schumer said: "It is just mind-boggling to think that Level 3 sexual offenders can get Viagra, which may indeed help them perpetrate other horrible crimes.

"Giving convicted sex offenders government-funded Viagra is like giving convicted murderers an assault rifle when they get out of jail," Schumer said.


SEE ALSO:
Erectile dysfunction
12 Oct 04 |  Medical notes


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