CRS: Health Law May Allow Viagra Coverage for Sex Offenders

Updated: 1:03 p.m.

The Congressional Research Service confirmed in a memo Wednesday that rapists and sex offenders may get federally subsidized Viagra and other sexual performance enhancing drugs under the recently passed health care reform law — information that Republicans charge will haunt Democrats in upcoming elections.

"Providing child molesters with taxpayer-funded Viagra shows the folly of government-run health care. Senators who allowed this to happen will be haunted by this vote for years to come," said John Hart, a spokesman for Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). Coburn, who requested the CRS review of the health care reforms, sought to add last-minute changes to the health care reconciliation bill that would prohibit sex offenders from receiving drugs such as Viagra under the health care law. However, that amendment was defeated during the Senate's vote-a-rama.

According to the CRS, under existing rules there are no prohibitions against providing erectile dysfunction drugs to rapists, pedophiles or other types of sex offenders.

The new law does "not appear to prohibit a qualified health plan in a health insurance exchange from providing coverage for drugs prescribed to treat ED for a non-incarcerated beneficiary who was previously convicted of rape, child molestation, or another sex offense" the CRS said in its memo, dated April 2 but released Wednesday. The report also said that "a convicted rapist, child molester, or other sex offender who is not incarcerated would not appear to be excluded from enrolling in a qualified health plan offered through an American Health Benefit Exchange in their state solely because of that conviction."

Jim Manley, a spokesman for Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), accused Coburn, who made the memo public, of a disingenuous political ploy. "This is just another attempt at hype by Sen. Coburn as he goes about trying to make a mockery of the legislative process. If he has a problem, offer legislation and deal with the issue in a constructive fashion instead of issuing a press release. To be clear, his goal is to repeal a law that will provide tax credits to small businesses, protect families from insurance companies that deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions, close the doughnut hole, allow parents to keep their young adult children on their policies," Manley said.