Medicaid can be used to cover mosquito repellent to prevent the spread of the Zika virus, federal regulators told state and private Medicaid officials in a letter sent Wednesday.
Coverage of repellent — when prescribed by a health professional — with the federal matching dollars given other Medicaid-covered treatments is the primary change in the new Department of Health and Human Services guidance. The letter is intended to clarify how low-income people covered by Medicaid can protect themselves so they don’t contract the virus or get tested and treated in case they do. HHS alerted about 50,000 people involved in Medicaid plans.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Zika is the definitive cause of an epidemic of birth defects in Brazil and other some countries with outbreaks of the virus. It also causes Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare condition in which the body attacks its own nerve cells, causing paralysis. The virus is largely spread by mosquitoes, can sometimes be transmitted sexually or through blood transfusions.