U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn’s Viagra amendment fails

BY CHRIS CASTEEL Modified: March 25, 2010 at 9:51 am •  Published: March 25, 2010
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WASHINGTON — The Senate on Wednesday killed a proposal by Sen. Tom Coburn to prevent convicted sex offenders from getting Viagra or similar prescriptions in the insurance markets to be established under the new health reform law.

Coburn’s amendment was one of several shot down by Democrats working to approve a package of changes to the health care reform bill signed into law Tuesday by President Barack Obama. Among those killed was one that would put members of Congress in the Medicaid program.

Any changes to the package would force the House to vote on it again, so Democrats put up a united front Wednesday against amendments to keep the package intact.

Idea criticized
Coburn, R-Muskogee, called the new health reform law "the greatest assault on liberty this country has ever had,” as he put Democrats in the position of voting down his proposal to prevent convicted child molesters, rapists and other sex offenders from getting federal drug coverage for erectile dysfunction drugs.

The amendment was killed by a vote of 57-42.

Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., called Coburn’s amendment "a crass political stunt aimed at making 30-second (political) commercials.”

Baucus said the bill Coburn was trying to amend was about helping seniors pay for drugs and making health care affordable for more people.

"This is a serious bill,” he said, charging that Coburn’s amendment made a "mockery” of the Senate and health care.

What would change?
An Associated Press survey in 2005 found that nearly 800 convicted sex offenders in 14 states had received erectile dysfunction drugs through Medicaid.

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