October 06, 2005

An Interesting Approach to Funding Hurricane Relief

This is interesting:


WASHINGTON - Buying your own Viagra will become an act of altruism under a House-passed bill that pays for hurricane relief with federal funds now devoted to Medicare and Medicaid coverage for erectile dysfunction drugs.

Rep. Nathan Deal, R-Ga., sponsor of the bill, said the government would save $690 million over five years by prohibiting the two government health care programs from subsidizing prescriptions for sexual performance drugs.

The money will be used to provide $500 million in federal unemployment funds to hurricane-affected states to help them pay benefits to out-of-work people: $400 million to Louisiana, $85 million to Mississippi and $15 million to Alabama.
The bill, passed by voice vote Thursday, also extends several health programs that assist low-income families nationwide.

Deal has previously backed legislation to end federal aid for impotence drugs, saying taxpayers should not be required to pay for a drug that does not determine life or death and is often used for recreational purposes.

Under Medicaid, the state-federal program for the poor, states are allowed to determine which drugs are medically necessary, and Deal said most states now consider Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs in that category.

A survey by The Associated Press earlier this year showed nearly 800 convicted sex offenders in 14 states — including Georgia — got erectile dysfunction drugs filled by Medicaid.

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