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EDITORIAL: Obamacare’s Viagra giveaway

- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 25, 2010

Senate Democrats voted almost unanimously Wednesday night to ensure the right of rapists and child molesters to have guaranteed access to government-subsidized Viagra under the president's health care plan. Only Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana broke ranks with his Democratic colleagues.

Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican, put the Senate's majority party on the spot by offering an amendment denying convicted sex offenders coverage for erectile-dysfunction medications. Dr. Coburn's proposal would also have prohibited health care exchanges from offering any coverage of elective-abortion drugs like RU-486 at taxpayer expense.

According to Senate Democrats, however, the drugs themselves were never the issue. Party leaders insisted subsidized Viagra would have to be provided to sex offenders because any changes to the reconciliation bill would have required the House to vote once again on health care legislation. Apparently, saving the House from an embarrassing vote was more important than protecting the public from chemically empowered predators.

This justification is nonsense. When the Senate makes any change to a bill, no matter how small, it must be sent back to the House for another vote. In this case, it had been clear for some time that the reconciliation bill would have to be changed. The Senate parliamentarian ruled that at least two provisions of the health care plan had to be stripped out to avoid parliamentary challenge. The Senate took up these changes yesterday, requiring the House to take the vote that was supposed to have been avoided at all cost. That means the original excuse given for defeating Dr. Coburn's amendment simply does not hold up.

Nor was the excuse any more believable when applied to other changes that Senate Democrats shot down. They defeated an amendment barring tax increases on families earning less than $250,000. So much for the president's promised "middle-class tax cut." They also defeated an amendment requiring the president and other administration officials to purchase health care from exchanges - just like everyone else under Obamacare.

Why would any of these common-sense provisions have been considered a poison pill? In public, Democrats proclaim that the new health care regulations will make everything better. Thinking their actions hidden from public scrutiny, they write legislative provisions exempting themselves from the very law they crafted. The boldness of the hypocrisy is breathtaking. It shows that they know that Obamacare's regulations will raise costs, not lower them as the president promised. The new law will also lower the quality of medicine that policyholders receive.

If Democrats don't support government-sponsored Viagra for criminals, they will need to come up with a more believable explanation for their vote.