Public Enemy No. 1: Viagra

Categories: Citystate
An orgy of grandstanding over sales to sex offenders

The Empire State's elected officials are racing to be the one to come down hardest on the provision of Viagra to convicted sex offenders.

First, State Comptroller Alan Hevesi reported over the weekend that 198 registered sex offenders were getting Viagra through state-federal funded Medicaid.

The race was on. Correctional Association of New York's Robert Gangi had a point when he told Newsday, "It does not make sense to make Viagra available to convicted sex offenders." But a sense of proportion seemed lost when:

  • Sen. Chuck Schumer introduced federal legislation to block Medicaid paying for Viagra for convicted sex offenders.
  • Gov. George Pataki banned all sex offenders from using Viagra, period—whether Medicaid paid for it or not.
  • Assemblyman Jim Tedisco (R-Schenectady) and state Sen. Mike Balboni (R-North Hempstead) introduced legislation barring any sex offender from getting penile implants or any sexually enhancing surgery, even if they pay for it out of pocket.
  • Pataki imposed a temporary ban on all Medicaid recipients from receiving Viagra, whether they are sex offenders or not.
  • That's called "mass punishment," but State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello dubbed Pataki's action "both strong and sensitive" (and therefore, every girl's dream).

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