Expand Medical Marijuana Coverage, New York Senate Report Recommends

Expand Medical Marijuana Coverage, New York Senate Report Recommends

Two days after New York assembly members filed legislation that would require certain health insurance programs to cover medical marijuana, a report from members of the state’s Senate is recommending a similar move.

The state should be “expanding health insurance coverage options for medical marijuana as a method to reduce overall usage of opioid medications,” reads one of the 11 recommendations included in the Senate Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction’s report released on Wednesday.

On Monday, 18 members of the legislature’s other chamber introduce a bill that would require publicly funded insurance programs to cover medical cannabis.

Touting previous decisions this year to allow doctors to recommend cannabis to people with substance use disorder and for treatment of acute pain, the task force noted that “studies have indicated that medical marijuana can be an effective tool in the fight against opioid overdoses.”

Senators on the task force wrote that New York should “build on the State Workers’ Compensation Board’s decision that coverage for medical marijuana is permissible as it relates to workers’ compensation claims.”

“This means that individuals (or rather their employers) prescribed medical marijuana under the Compassionate Care Act can legally seek payments from their insurer for reimbursement. Insurers offering coverage outside of the workers’ compensation system are not required to provide coverage for medical marijuana, so individuals often cover the cost out-of-pocket, which is expensive. New York must address the disparity between medical marijuana coverage for those injured at work and the lack of coverage for individuals outside the workers’ compensation system.”

To illustrate the need for expanded coverage, the report highlights the story of a nurse who successfully used medical cannabis for pain relief.

“A nurse by profession, Ms. Rouso-Little explained how after years of opioid treatments for her pain, including fentanyl patches and pills which made her sleep for more than 14 hours a day, she switched to medical marijuana,” it says. “Getting off opioids not only helped relieve her pain more effectively, but, she was able to return to work and her life was transformed.”

“I have my life back and am opiate-free.”

The moves to expand medical cannabis come as state officials are considering legalizing marijuana more broadly.

New York Bill Would Require Medical Marijuana Be Covered By Public Health Insurance

See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:

Expand Medical Marijuana Coverage, New York Senate Report Recommends

New York Bill Would Require Medical Marijuana Be Covered By Public Health Insurance

New York Bill Would Require Medical Marijuana Be Covered By Public Health Insurance

Public health insurance programs would be required to cover medical marijuana in New York if a new Assembly bill is enacted.

“Cost is the primary barrier to patient access in New York’s medical marijuana program,” reads a memo attached to the legislation. “Medicaid, other public health plans, and commercial health insurance plans do not cover medical marijuana, forcing patients to pay out of pocket. Some patients begin treatment only to stop due to inability to pay, while others turn to the black market.”

“For thousands of patients, medical marijuana is a safer and more effective medication than other drugs, especially opioids.”

The bill, filed on Monday by Assemblyman Richard Gottfried and 17 cosponsors, would add medical cannabis coverage to four publicly funded health programs—Medicaid, Child Health Plus, workers compensation and EPIC, as well as the largely publicly funded Essential Plan.

“For Medicaid and Child Health Plus, there would presumably not be federal matching funds until the federal government changes its policies, but New York’s Medicaid and Child Health Plus programs have always covered people and services for which we do not receive federal match,” the Assembly memo says.

The bill also clarifies that while commercial health insurance programs are not required to cover medical marijuana, they are free to do so. And it would allow state regulators to certify medical marijuana dispensaries as Medicaid providers solely for the purpose of dispensing cannabis.


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If enacted, it would be the latest in a series of steady expansions to the the state’s medical cannabis program. Earlier this year, for example, regulators moved to allow medical marijuana to be recommended for any condition for which opioids would normally be prescribed.

Meanwhile, the administration of Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is considering more broadly legalizing marijuana. Officials are conducting a series of listening sessions around the state on the topic, and the governor created a task force to draft legalization legislation that lawmakers can consider in 2019.

See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:

New York Bill Would Require Medical Marijuana Be Covered By Public Health Insurance

PTSD Does Not Qualify for Medical Cannabis in New York

PTSD Does Not Qualify for Medical Cannabis in New York

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has not been added to the list of ailments that would enable New Yorkers to purchase medical cannabis, according to the state health department.

According to the state’s health commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker, not enough evidence existed to support the claim that medical cannabis had a positive effect in the treatment of PTSD. The determination, while contradictory to anecdotal evidence from PTSD sufferers and some research, is based upon the analysis of several dozen scientific studies by state Department of Health physicians and scientists, according to a health department spokesperson.

However, the commissioner may add any condition to the list of those for which medical cannabis is available in the Empire State, and the commissioner will be meeting with experts in February to reassess any new information.

The law signed 18 months ago by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo legalizing the statewide sale of medical cannabis listed five ailments that the health department needed to investigate in order to determine whether cannabis served as a viable treatment method. The others included rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, muscular dystrophy, and dystonia.

The decision by the health department frustrated at least one state assemblyman who supported the original bill.

“The law or the health commissioner don’t tell doctors what diseases are appropriate for any other drug,”

said Assemblyman Richard Gottfried.

“We really should not have an official list for medical marijuana.”

Recent months have seen a nationwide flurry of activity among activists hoping to allow medical cannabis to legally treat PTSD.

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New York Medical Cannabis Patient Registry Doubles in One Week

New York Medical Cannabis Patient Registry Doubles in One Week

One hundred sixty-five patients have now qualified for medical cannabis in the state of New York, according to the New York State Health Department.

The number, while modest, represents a doubling of the total number of medical cannabis patients in the state in the past week. According to operators, patients have been seen at every one of the state’s eight dispensaries to have opened since the program’s launch.

The number of doctors participating in the program has also jumped, with 225 doctors now having completed the state-required training. That number is up from the roughly 150 who had completed the training last week. Yet some would-be patients, complaining of a lack of access to participating physicians, still have yet to meet with a certified doctor.

By New York law, the cannabis being offered may only be produced and distributed in pill or liquid form; it may not be distributed as a dry cannabis flowers. Still, several of the state’s patients have expressed approval over the state’s newly-established medical cannabis program.

“When you’re as sick as I am, you’ll try anything,”

said Brittany Barger (photo below), a 27-year-old sufferer of ovarian cancer whose condition has caused her to lose 100 pounds. “With this, I’m hoping to have more good days, and be able to check some more stuff on my bucket list.”

brittany new york(AP Photo/Jennifer Peltz)

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