A Rise in Medicare Coverage?
Mike Ditka promises it’ll ‘“get you back in the game.’” Bob Dole touted its healing powers. It’s not talked about in public, but mostly whispered about behind the hands of old women at the bridge table. Late night talk show hosts have a field day with it.
It’s sexual dysfunction. And it’s a pretty common problem; one out of 10 adult men are afflicted, according to WebMD.
I’m sure sexual performance has been a problem for centuries, and finally there’s a cure… a little blue pill, Viagra. Levitra and Cialis come in different colors, but they all do the same thing ‘— make a man feel ‘manly’ again.
And now, we as taxpayers will be helping Medicare’s impotent get the help they need. President Bush signed the Medicare Modernization Act (MMA) two years ago. MMA was designed as an effort to revamp the failing system of Medicare and for the first time include a prescription plan in the benefits. The law goes in effect in 2006 and will include sexual performance drugs on the list of medicines covered.
I have no problem with people wanting fulfillment in their twilight years. As I’m writing this column, there is a Cialis commercial on TV featuring sixtysomethings giggling like teenagers, which sort of makes me uncomfortable. I would think most 60 year olds have some other ‘— more important’— disease to focus on.
I do have a problem with taxpayers footing the bill for Uncle Herman’s jollies. I know that prostate cancer and some other types of disabilities sometimes affects sexual performance, but the human body is sometimes its own best indicator. Could your body be possibly telling you that blood is needed somewhere else ‘— somewhere more important ‘— like the brain or heart?
Personally, I think Viagra, Cialis and Levitra are recreational drugs. They are not taken for a life-saving reason. They are sometimes used to treat high blood pressure and heart disease, but there are plenty of other medicines out there that treat those same things. For someone to claim that they are taking Viagra to help their high blood pressure, I would think that would be sort of ironic. To me it’s like a 15 year old’s parents claiming their daughter takes birth control pills for her acne.
To me, Medicare paying for ED drugs is like Medicare paying for Willie Nelson’s marijuana. It is all recreational. They both make you ‘feel’ better.
And what about plastic surgery? When people reach a certain age, things start to sag and drag. They sometimes get plastic surgery to make themselves feel better. Is that not the same as Viagra? Should Medicare pay for elective plastic surgery?
I think it was a great idea for government to try to rework the Medicare system to help the aging population. But adding drugs that are elective medicines is not the way to do it. Maybe passing of the law is a reflection of who is the majority in Congress ‘— old men. Remember: one out of 10.
To comment on this column, e-mail Lauren Cartwright at lauren @yesweekly.com