ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- Registered sex offenders in New York received $63,000 worth of erectile dysfunction drugs and other sexual treatments courtesy of the state's publicly funded Medicaid program, according to an audit released Wednesday.
Federal rules bar Medicaid coverage of sexual treatments for all recipients, not just sex offenders. Yet state Medicaid officials approved $930,000 in improper payments for the drugs between 2012 and 2018, according to the audit released by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and first reported by The Associated Press.
According to the audit, 47 of those Medicaid recipients were also state sex offenders, who are prohibited from getting Medicaid-covered sexual treatments under a state law.
The lapses identified in the audit show the need for immediate action by state health officials to increase accountability and oversight, DiNapoli said.
"There are clear rules about what conditions Medicaid will cover when it comes to erectile dysfunction drugs," DiNapoli said. "Paying for sex offenders who've committed terrible crimes to get these drugs should never be lost in the bureaucratic administration of this program."
State health officials dismissed much of the criticism, noting that under Medicaid rules, erectile dysfunction drugs can be prescribed to treat other conditions, such as prostate problems.
The auditors "either ignored the law or the facts, which undermines any value that can be associated with its findings," the department said in a formal, written response to the audit.
But auditors discounted that explanation, noting that in many cases the medications were approved for Medicaid recipients who had no relevant diagnosis.