RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – The cost for 2 types of drugs will no longer be covered by the state in a move approved by the General Assembly. Antihistamine and erectile dysfunction drugs must now be paid for out of pocket by anyone covered under the Commonwealth's insurance plan.
"The cost of drugs continues to increase and the cost of the health plan continues to increase, so something has to give," said the director of the Department of Human Resources Management, Sarah Wilson. "So if employees can't afford it, the state has no money to contribute to it, then you look at the different plan designs and where you go to save money."
This amendment to the budget was made last Wednesday by the General Assembly and will save the state millions. Last year, nearly $1.2 million was paid to cover the costs of antihistamine drugs alone. $1.7 million, however, was paid to cover the costs of erectile dysfunction drugs, such as Viagra. This move could save the state nearly $3 million.
"You gotta have a balanced budget so what's gotta go?" said Wilson. "So that's when you go through the list and say okay what are the things that people can tolerate and do with less of."
The decision to not pay for antihistamine drugs was simply because drugs like Claritin and Zyrtec are now available over the counter but there's no over the counter alternative for erectile dysfunction drugs. Last year, the state's health plan covered the price of the drugs for nearly seven thousand people.