Sex offenders across the county may be eligible to receive Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs from state administered Medicaid programs. In New York, 198 offenders were identified as receiving the sexual performance enhancing drugs.
When NewsChannel Seven’s Capitol Bureau Chief Mike Vasilinda started asking Florida officials about their policies, they began a search for data and vowed to stop prescribing the drugs to sex offenders.
The federal government mandates that every state must provide Viagra or a like drug to its Medicaid patients who meet the requirements. The mandate includes those patients convicted of sex crimes.
When told of the policy, Jennifer Dritt at the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence was stunned.
"I think there are certainly times when sex offenders use Viagra to continue their fantasizing about the optimal crime."
The problem came to light when New York's Comptroller wrote to the federal government saying, "This raises serious policy considerations and has the potential to place the public at risk.”
Two hundred of New York's 21,000 registered sex offenders are receiving the Viagra like drug from the government. Here in Florida there are 30,000 registered offenders so if those percentages hold true some 300 Florida offenders are getting sexually enhancing drugs.
When we asked Florida's attorney general who has led the crusade to lock sex offenders up, he called the state agency responsible. The Agency for Health Care Administration immediately began cross-referencing records.
Joann Carrin, a spokesperson for Attorney General Charlie Crist, says a probe was already underway.
“If there is a problem then we need to make sure that it's stopped, and that's the attorney general's focus is that if this is happening, it should not be happening."
The Agency for Health Care may not have the legal authority to stop the prescriptions, but it will anyway and invite sex offenders to take them to court.
Advocates for women's rights say the Viagra policy points out a double standard in the Medicaid system. Male sex offenders can get erection drugs but law abiding women can't get contraceptives or the morning after pill to prevent pregnancies.