NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A new report may concern some New York taxpayers.
Web Extra: Read the Comptroller’s report (.pdf)
This was uncovered by the New York State Comptroller‘s Office. It found Medicaid paid more than $60,000 for the drugs and other sexual treatments for 47 sex offenders who the comptroller said should get nothing of the kind.
The Department of Health is disputing some of the findings, but admits that some sex offenders did receive ED drugs.
It is being called a blatant misuse of taxpayer money: Sex offenders getting Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs through Medicaid, run by New York State.
That is against the law, says the comptroller’s spokesman Mark Johnson.
“A number of these are level two and level three sex offenders and level three being the one that law enforcement considers the most likely to reoffend,” Johnson said.
CBS2’s Dave Carlin spoke with New Yorkers, who called it an outrage.
“I mean, there needs to be a little bit more paying attention, the oversight. You can’t be giving out state money to people, even if they did their time or not. [They] shouldn’t be getting access to things like this,” said Mamoudou Ndiaye of Bushwick.
“Like, not for sex offenders. No. And especially for Viagra: No,” said Nicole DeCarmine of Far Rockaway.
Carlin spoke to pharmacists who say the way the system is set up, they can see how cases like this might fall through the cracks.
“The prescriber doesn’t know, the pharmacist definitely doesn’t know,” said pharmacist Michael Morelli.
Morelli says privacy laws make it impossible for him to know if is dispensing these drugs to sex offenders. He says the managed care organizations – or MCOs – used by Medicaid may be where mistakes are being made, and state comptrollers auditors agree.
“And DOH oversight was lacking,” Johnson said.
The state Department of Health about it. It replied with the following statement:
The Department strongly disagrees with the Comptroller’s conclusions. The Medicaid Program is prohibited from covering drugs used for the treatment of sexual or erectile dysfunction. However, drugs that are used to treat SD/ED can also be used to treat other indications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In these cases, we thoroughly review the sex offender registry to prevent sex offenders from receiving drugs that could treat ED/SD. Over the course of six years, the OSC identified less than $8,000 in questionable payments made by the MCOs for drugs used to treat ED/SD for sex offenders.
The Health Department said erectile dysfunction drugs can also be used to treat other conditions that are allowed, such as prostate problems.
“Occasionally it’s prescribe for post-prostate surgery, people who have prostate cancer,” Morelli said.
The comptroller’s office says any amount spent this way is too much, and another audit will take place to see if numbers significantly change.
The Department of Health says it will crack down to ensure better compliance.