Okay, looks like Medicare and Medicaid are not only not going to cover erectile dysfunction drugs for sex offenders; they won't be covering them for anyone. The article doesn't mention this, but many feminists have pointed out the disparity in prescription drug coverage for years: birth control isn't covered, but Viagra is. I'm wondering, haven't birth control pills and condoms been available at county health departments in the past, if you have an examination there? Is this not the case anymore? I went to the Hennepin County Health Department's site and searched for birth control and other euphemisms I could think of: family planning, women's health, and I didn't find anything. Scary. Maybe they just don't want to talk about it on their web site?

Anyway, from the article:

"It's a terrible precedent, to knock out a whole class of drugs from a formulary," Representative Nancy L. Johnson, Republican of Connecticut, said. "Is the next round going to be hormones for women?"

I'm guessing she's talking about hormone replacement therapy after menopause? Or could she be talking about hormonal birth control insofar as it's available in free clinics? Maybe the government shouldn't cover hormone replacement therapy drugs, especially if there might be a link between too much estrogen and breast cancer. On the other hand, the HRT is supposed to help prevent osteoperosis:

[Rep.] Inslee [D-WA] likened banning payment for impotence drugs to barring arthritis medicines that might help older people continue to play golf or the piano.

I guess that comparison works if you're talking about HRT, but not medicine that relieves physical pain. I don't know firsthand, of course, but I don't think impotence is (edited to add: physically) painful. On to the last paragraph:

But Mr. King said a better comparison would be fertility treatments, which Medicaid does not cover. "I argue that sex has only two reasons, one of them is for procreation, and we don't subsidize procreation in the form of fertility drugs," he said. "And the other reason for sex is recreation, and we should not be funding recreational drugs of any kind, be they psychedelic or for sexual impotency."

Hmmm. The pharmaceutical companies invoke the "compassion" argument, pointing out that impotence is often a side effect of other health problems. I don't know, I'm still forming my opinion on this. If you believe, as many do, that sex is a basic human need, then it does seem kind of harsh to make the means of sex accessible only to those who can afford the drugs. But part of me definitely thinks there are better uses for that $15 million a year. What do you think?


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Medicaid and BCPs

thejtrain here...found your link via Pandagon. Like I say in the comments over there (in which I messed up your name--sorry!), Medicaid varies by state, but at least in North Carolina, it absolutely does pay for birth control pills. You're also right that in most places in the country, women without Medicaid can get BCPs on a sliding scale at their local health department.

A lot of private health plans used to not cover them, but I don't know how true that is anymore.

Great blog!

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