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Milwaukee Teachers Fought For Viagra

A little historical perspective from way back in August, via the archives of the Associated Press:

Milwaukee Teachers Fight for Viagra Coverage

Despite Facing Budget Cuts and Layoffs, Teachers Fight For Taxpayer-Funded Erectile Dysfunction Drug

Ryan J. Foley, Associated Press Writer, On Friday 6 August 2010

(AP)  With the district in a financial crisis and hundreds of its members facing layoffs, the Milwaukee teachers union is taking a peculiar stand: fighting to get its taxpayer-funded Viagra back.

The union has asked a judge to order the school board to again include Pfizer Inc.’s erectile dysfunction drug and similar pills in its health insurance plans.

As always, the left turns to the courts to get what he can’t get through the front door.

The filing is the latest in a two-year legal campaign in which the union has argued, so far unsuccessfully, that the board’s policy of excluding erectile dysfunction drugs discriminates against male employees. The union says Viagra, Cialis, Levitra and others are necessary treatment for "an exclusively gender-related condition."

But lawyers for the school board say the drugs were excluded in 2005 to save money, and there is no discrimination because they are used primarily for recreational sex and not out of medical necessity.

The filing last month comes as the union, the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association, is also protesting hundreds of layoff notices issued to teachers for the coming school year. Citing a "financial crisis" caused by exploding benefit costs and revenue shortfalls, the district’s outgoing superintendent proposed laying off 682 employees in April.

The district gave layoff notices to 482 teachers in June, but recalled 89 of them last month. Additional teachers may be called back, but these are still the first layoffs of Milwaukee teachers in decades.

At least one lawmaker questioned why the union is fighting for Viagra while teachers are losing their jobs. A consultant for the school board has estimated that reinstating the drug benefit would cost $786,000 per year – the cost to keep perhaps a dozen first-year teachers employed.

State Rep. Jason Fields argues that the money could be better spent any number of ways – including saving jobs.

"You’ve got to be kidding me," said Fields, a Milwaukee Democrat. "The fact that is the point of contention is kind of frightening. What are our priorities? I’m all for love and peace. But almost 1 million dollars? And you go to court over this issue?"

And as Mr. Everett Dirksen famously noted, ‘a million dollars here and a million dollars there, and soon you are talking about real money.’

Union spokeswoman Kris Collett declined comment. But its lawyer Barbara Quindel said the case was worth fighting despite the district’s grim finances. Quindel said erectile 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.

"MTEA believes that men should not be discriminated against in receiving treatment for their medical conditions," she said

That the pills – which can cost $20 apiece without insurance – were included in the first place is somewhat unusual. Health insurer Aetna Inc., which provides one of the district’s two plans, says its standard pharmacy plans exclude Viagra and other "drugs for lifestyle enhancement or performance."

Basic state employee health plans also generally don’t cover those drugs, but more expensive premium plans might, said Dick Cauchi, who tracks health benefits at the National Conference of State Legislatures. Lisa Soronen, National School Boards Association senior staff attorney, also said she had never heard of a similar case or an example of a union negotiating coverage for erectile dysfunction drugs.

"If you are getting down to what drugs are covered, you are really getting in the weeds," she said, explaining most negotiations are over premiums and co-payments.

Indeed, it is exactly these kind of "in the weeds" negotiations that Governor Walker is trying to do away with.

Board and union negotiators reached a deal in 2002 to cover six tablets per month for erectile dysfunction drugs in health plans that insure 10,000 employees, dependents and retirees. They quickly became popular.

By 2004, the number of claimants receiving prescriptions skyrocketed to more than 1,000 per year, costing the district $207,000. During negotiations in 2005, the board proposed eliminating the benefit and an arbitrator adopted the plan…

We’re not sure whether this ever got (ahem) straightened out.

But clearly the teachers union is only concerned ‘for the children.’

This article was posted by Steve on Friday, February 18th, 2011. Comments are currently closed.

6 Responses to “Milwaukee Teachers Fought For Viagra”

  1. BigOil says:

    It makes sense the teachers union would fight for Viagra – they are intent on screwing Wisconsin taxpayers.

  2. GetBackJack says:

    This is ironic news given that ever day there are several news stories revealing, again, teachers sexually preying on students. Ironic? Well, maybe I meant to say sick.

  3. JohnMG says:

    Anybody ever seen the movie “Stand and Deliver?

    Besides, all of those pr**cks who’ve been in Madison for the last three days have been erect for waaaaay longer than 4 hours, so they shouldn’t need the pills.

  4. NoNeoCommies says:

    It is sooo much easier to do what they have been doing to the taxpayer when they have their viagra.

  5. artboyusa says:

    True confession: out of curiosity I once “borrowed” some of an older relative’s, um, Pfizer medication and tried it out and let me tell you, after about the sixth hour you realize it really is possible to have too much of a good thing.

    • GetBackJack says:

      Wooly Boogers, AB, that’s some stones to confess such a thing and don’t ever do that again …..


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