Victims’ rights groups are reacting angrily to word that taxpayers are footing the bill for registered sex offenders to take Viagra and similar drugs.
It turns out Medicaid covered the cost of the sexual-enhancement drugs for 218 sex offenders in Florida over the past four years. Victims’ advocates say that’s a cruel, and potentially dangerous double standard.
Maureen O’Neil works for an outreach group that assists rape victims. She says the government paying for erectile dysfunction drugs for sex offenders amounts to a slap in the face to victims.
"It really does, because we see victims who can’t afford the medications they need and I’m wondering how it is that the government is paying for prescriptions for Viagra for sexual predators when rape victims are not able to get the prescriptions they need," said O'Neil.
Florida’s Medicaid program has provided sexual enhancement drugs to more than 200 offenders over the past four years, and Viagra isn’t cheap. The little blue pills cost about $10.50 each.
Taxpayers have shelled out nearly $100,000 for sex offenders’ prescriptions. Jennifer Dritt of the Council Against Sexual Violence worries the policy may have resulted in more attacks.
"The government is paying for sex offenders to get Viagra. We know that some sex offenders use it to actually commit offenses," said Dritt.
The American Civil Liberties Union’s Larry Spalding says the outrage is justified, but it may not be totally fair to lump in someone convicted of a sexual encounter with an underage girlfriend.
"Those types of people should be considered like everybody else, but in Florida we don’t break down those categories," said Spalding.
It appears the outrage has hit its mark though. State officials are now cutting off prescriptions of Viagra and similar drugs to all sex offenders.
The Federal Department of Health and Human Services announced Tuesday that Medicaid dollars should not be used to pay for impotence treatment drugs for sex offenders. The feds directed states to immediately review their policies or face sanctions.