For all of those in Missouri and elsewhere who are condemning the recent move to reform Medicaid benefits, look no further than the fine state of New York. A new audit reported Monday that the Medicaid program in New York has been purchasing Viagra for rapists and other high-risk sex offenders for the past five years.
Medicaid is ripe for reform on two fronts. First, far too many low-income residents abuse the program at the expense of others in need. And secondly, members of the medical community too share much of the blame for the costly abuses to the program. In Missouri alone, it will take almost one-third of the total state revenue to pay for the Medicaid program.
But back to New York. When the audit was first unveiled, lawmakers of all stripes quickly condemned the practice. Even our friend Sen. Clinton said she was "deeply disturbed" with the purchases allowed for the sex offenders.
I assume that cooler heads will prevail and that Viagra and other "enhancement" drugs will soon be off the Medicaid list for sex offenders. But the bureaucracy and policies that allowed this fiasco to exist for the past five years is the basis for the reform movement. The fact is there are other examples of abuse that take place every minute with the Medicaid program. And without substantial reform, the costs will someday soon overwhelm the medical delivery system paid for by the taxpayers of this nation.
Everyone in New York seeks to believe that the Viagra program for sex offenders was strictly unintentional. And I'm sure that's the case. But with a program so large, the potential for abuse is beyond the imagination.
Is Medicaid reform needed? You're darned right it's needed and the sooner the better. Reform doesn't mean removing eligible, needy people from the insurance list. It means examining a program for potential savings and potential wrongdoing. And there is absolutely nothing wrong or mean-
spirited with that movement.