Medicaid to cover mosquito repellent for Zika prevention
BATON ROUGE - With the Zika virus increasing its foothold in Florida, health officials have announced that Louisiana Medicaid will cover mosquito repellent to further prevent the disease.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced Thursday that as of June 1, it will adopt a policy that will allow physicians to prescribe mosquito repellent for Medicaid patients. Health officials have identified which mosquito repellents are acceptable for use during pregnancy.
According to Dr. SreyRam Kuy, chief medical officer for the Medicaid program, the agency worked with its pharmacy team and Medicaid health plans as well as the CDC and the Office of Public Health to develop the policy.
“With this policy, we now offer coverage for mosquito repellents for pregnant women and beneficiaries who are actively planning to conceive. Although our plan was for this coverage to begin as soon as there was local transmission documented in Louisiana, some of our health plans have already started reimbursing for mosquito repellent, and in light of the rapid growth of local transmission cases in Florida, we are now pre-emptively activating our coverage of repellents.” said Dr. Kuy.
The Zika virus is a mosquito-borne infection that causes symptoms such as fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis. While symptoms are usually mild, pregnant women who become infected may have babies with severe birth defects such as encephalitis. It has also been determined that Zika can be transmitted sexually.
Dr. Rebekah Gee, LDH secretary said it is good public policy for Medicaid to cover mosquito repellent for female enrollees who are pregnant or attempting to become pregnant.
“This coverage will serve as a new prevention tool to augment and expand our efforts to protect women from contracting Zika virus, thereby decreasing their risk of delivering a baby with a severe birth defect such as microcephaly.”
Louisiana has yet to see a locally-transmitted case of the virus within its boundaries, but health officials are urging all women who are pregnant, could be pregnant or are attempting to become pregnant to take all appropriate precautions when it comes to preventing the virus. Health officials advise that women who have experienced Zika virus infection to postpone pregnancy until consulting with their physician.
Only insect repellents registered and approved by the EPA that contain either DEET or Picaridin will be covered under the new program.
More information is available on the Medicaid website.