Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Viagra Discrimination

Huffington Post reports that a Milwaukee teachers' union has filed a discrimination-based lawsuit. The basis of the lawsuit? Viagra is not covered by their health insurance plan, and that's discrimination against men.

The policy argument against this is pretty obvious. High costs at a time when budgets are tight. The article notes a consultant's report that adding Viagra would cost $786,000 per year. Also, its common usage is generally not "medical necessity."

An attorney for the union counters, by arguing that:
[E]rectile dysfunction is associated with heart disease, prostate cancer and other conditions, and the drugs are approved by the Food and Drug Administration and recommended by the American Urological Association.
(quote from article, not attorney). They also argue that some "less desirable" options for men are already included.

So where's the discrimination? The union brought the lawsuit under the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act. One brief claims that various female sexual disfunction treatments are covered by the plan, so why exclude Viagra for the guys?

This story is starting to get some traction, so we may be hearing more about it in the news...

Posted by Philip Miles, an employment lawyer with McQuaide Blasko in State College, Pennsylvania.