Medicare inappropriately paid millions for erectile dysfunction pills

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted March 28, 2011

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Medicare Part D plans covered $3.1 million in erectile dysfunction drugs in 2007 and 2008 despite a congressional prohibition, the Dept. of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General has found.

Medicare payment for medications to treat sexual or erectile dysfunction were banned in 2007 by lawmakers who said it was wrong for taxpayers to subsidize seniors' recreational sex. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services uses a claims edit to reject such drugs in its processing system, but the agency had been using an incomplete list of excluded drugs, according to a March OIG report.

OIG recommended that the Medicare program strengthen its internal controls and attempt to impose financial adjustments on pharmacies that were paid for providing the erectile dysfunction drugs.

The agency has since instituted the tougher controls recommended by the OIG, CMS said in a response to the report.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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