AB522 would make an exception for registered sex offenders. State law now prohibits sex offender information from being used to deny any health coverage, but that would change under the bill. "Giving Viagra to a convicted sex offender is like giving a gun to a bank robber. It's irresponsible and puts innocent people in danger," Assemblyman George Plescia, R-La Jolla, said in a statement after the Assembly voted 78-0 for the ban. The prohibition was added in Senate amendments to his bill, which originally dealt only with unrelated medical coverage.
Experts say Viagra and similar drugs do nothing to increase sexual motivation, however. The federal government changed its rules in May after a New York state audit showed 198 sex offenders there received government-reimbursed Viagra between January 2000 and March 2005, generating nationwide publicity. Schwarzenegger soon directed state agencies to tell Medi-Cal providers to stop prescribing Viagra-like drugs to sex offenders. He also asked lawmakers to send him a bill outlawing the coverage.