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Giambra Appalled at Medicaid Payments to Sex Offenders for Viagra

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – An alarming story has surfaced on where Medicaid dollars are being spent in New York State.

According to an audit released Sunday by State Comptroller Alan Hevesi, level three sex offenders received Medicaid reimbursements for Viagra between January of 2000 and March of this year.

Erie County Executive Joel Giambra -- who continues to blame Medicaid state mandates for the county's fiscal mess -- says he was appalled to learn of this latest report.

"To know that we're paying, number one, for a prescription drug that's very expensive, and number two, is going to people who have a history of sex offenses, is appalling to me," Giambra said. "It's also appalling to know that we're paying for Viagra for anybody when there's not a legitimate medical purpose.

Giambra says in Erie County, the cost of Viagra in 2003 was more than $500,000. He says taxpayers paid 25 percent of that cost.

Right now, there is word that the Bush administration is scrambling to find a way to stop sex offenders from receiving those drugs paid by taxpayers. Senators Charles Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York said they would support such a bill.

Giambra tells WBFO News the county has no control over the list of drugs that are given to those who are on Medicaid. Six Flags Darien Lake theme park is warning on its season passes that it can refuse entry to anyone convicted of a crime that could endanger other park guests. It specifically mentions sex crimes. Six Flags says it doesn't plan to run background checks on everyone, but visitors seen acting inappropriately could be checked out and ejected. Debbie Nauser, spokeswoman for Oklahoma City-based Six Flags, says the wording provides "an extra level of protection" for visitors and was drafted on the advice of company attorneys. The wording was added to season passes for all 30 of its U-S amusement parks. High gasoline prices will not stop Americans from hitting the road this Memorial Day weekend. The Triple A of Western and Central New York estimates more than 37 million people will travel 50 miles or more from home this weekend. Spokesman Wally Smith says that would set a record... [Cart No: 0523-WS-2 Time: 22s Out-cue: and flying.] Smith says that's because air fares are down about ten percent from where they were last year. The Memorial Day weekend is traditionally the unofficial start of the summer vacation season. Governor Pataki's campaign war chest is nearing the two (m) million-dollar mark. The Buffalo News reports today that a Virginia political action committee has raised one-point-eight-seven (m) million dollars over the past year and a half. Those are funds Pataki could use to launch a presidential campaign should he decide to enter the race in 2008.