May 24,2005

Grassley Calls on Congress to Eliminate Federal Payments for Lifestyle Drugs

Chairman’s bill would end lifestyle coverage of Viagra, Cialis, Levitra by Medicare, Medicaid

WASHINGTON — Sen. Chuck Grassley today introduced legislation to eliminate allfederal payments for certain lifestyle prescription drugs.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated that Medicare and Medicaid would spend $2billion on such drugs between 2006 and 2015. The new Medicare prescription drug benefit willbegin in January 2006. “We live in a world of limited resources, and those dollars could be spentmore wisely,” Grassley said.

Grassley characterized his initiative as fundamental to providing good stewardship of thefederal health care programs. “Year after year, the costs of these and other federal health careprograms continue to rise,” he said. “And year after year, we are forced to make difficultdecisions to find ways to save money under these programs with the goal of sustaining them wellinto the future.”

As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, Grassley was one of the mainarchitects of the Medicare prescription drug legislation enacted in 2003. Both Medicare andMedicaid fall within the legislative and oversight jurisdiction of the Finance Committee.The lifestyle medicines that would no longer be covered under Grassley’s legislationinclude Viagra, Cialis and Levitra. The legislation would not prevent coverage by the federalgovernment of those drugs for treatments not related to sexual performance.

The text of Grassley’s statement regarding introduction of the “Prescription DrugCoverage Stewardship Act of 2005" follows here.

Floor Statement of U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley
Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance
Introduction of the Prescription Drug Coverage Stewardship Act of 2005
Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Mr. President, over the past three decades, prescription medicines have assumed a centraland critical role in treating health care conditions. Every year, researchers make new discoveriesthat help patients cope with illnesses and improve their quality of life. Ensuring access toprescription drugs - to treatments that can help people maintain their health and avoid costlyhospitalizations, for example - is a fundamental responsibility of our federal health programs.We would not have worked as hard as we did to establish the first-ever Medicare prescriptiondrug benefit if we did not believe this to be true. At the same time, we have a tremendousresponsibility to be good stewards of taxpayers' dollars. I, for one, take that responsibility veryseriously.

In 2004, our nation spent $1.8 trillion on health care. Medicare spending accounted for17 percent of that amount. In 2005, Medicaid spending is expected to reach $321 billion. Thefederal government offers me and other federal employees health coverage through the FederalEmployees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP). The Department of Defense has TRICARE formilitary personnel, and the Veterans' Administration provides an important source of health careaccess to those who proudly served our country. Year after year, the costs of these and otherfederal health care programs continue to rise. Year after year, we are forced to make difficultdecisions to find ways to save money under these programs with the goal of sustaining them wellinto the future.

In contrast to those decisions, the bill that I am introducing today was not difficult for meat all. By eliminating all federal payments for certain "lifestyle" drugs, the legislation restores thefundamental concept of stewardship to prescription drug coverage under federal programs. It is apretty simple piece of legislation - no payment for drugs prescribed for sexual or erectiledysfunction under any federal program, period. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO)estimated that Medicare and Medicaid alone will spend $2 billion on these drugs between 2006and 2015. In my opinion, those dollars could be spent more wisely.

When we crafted the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, our bipartisan agreementsought to strike the most reasonable balance for Medicare beneficiaries and hard workingtaxpayers. We wanted to make sure that beneficiaries had access to life-saving andlife-improving medicines. Now some certainly may argue that these "lifestyle" drugs canimprove your life. I appreciate that view. However, we live in a world of limited resources, andin that world of limited resources coverage of these "lifestyle" drugs under Medicare - or anyother federal program, in my opinion - is inconsistent with that goal of balance. I am pleased tojoin with Senators Lott, Santorum, and Ensign in working to rectify that situation today and urgemy colleagues to join us in cosponsoring this important legislation.