On June 1, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that it is now allowing states to pay for mosquito repellent for Medicaid enrollees as a Zika virus prevention measure.

Following this announcement, the Louisiana Medicaid program adopted a policy to allow physicians to prescribe mosquito repellent to their Medicaid patients. The Department of Health has identified which mosquito repellents are acceptable for use during pregnancy, and has disseminated this information to providers as well as to the public via the LDH website. 

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. 

Zika virus is a mosquito-borne infection that causes fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis. Symptoms are usually mild, but pregnant women who become infected can have babies with severe birth defects. Zika can also be transmitted sexually.

Louisiana’s Medicaid program already provides prenatal care, family counseling and contraception, which are the program’s primary Zika virus prevention measures, to its enrollees given the risks Zika virus poses to unborn children.

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.”

There have been no locally-transmitted cases of Zika virus in Louisiana, but health officials urge all women who are pregnant, could be pregnant or are attempting to become pregnant to take all appropriate precautions when it comes to Zika virus prevention. Any woman who has experienced a recent Zika virus infection, even one acquired while travelling outside of Louisiana, should postpone pregnancy until consulting with their primary physician.

Only insect repellents registered and approved by the Environmental Protection Agency and that contain either DEET or Picaridin will be covered under the new program.

The Louisiana Medicaid policy on mosquito repellent coverage can be found on the Medicaid website.

The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state residents. To learn more about LDH, visit www.ldh.la.gov. For up-to-date health information, news and emergency updates, follow LDH's Twitter account and Facebook.