New York Moves to Let Medicaid Pay for Medical Marijuana

The measure would classify MMJ as a “covered drug” in state law.

New York lawmakers got a step closer to authorizing state-funded insurance payments to cover the cost of medical cannabis for patients, with a bill to do so advancing easily out of a state Assembly committee hearing.

The measure – A04713 – has a companion bill in the state Senate which hasn’t yet had a hearing, but the Assembly bill is backed by Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes and sailed through the Assembly Health Committee on an 18-7 vote, the Ithaca Journal reported.

If it’s successful, the bill would allow Medicaid patients and others that rely on state-funded insurance programs – including Child Health Plus, workers compensation, and EPIC programs – to have their medical cannabis costs fully covered, instead of having to pay out of pocket, as nearly all medical marijuana patients do nationwide.

The bill would add marijuana to the state law category of “prescription drug,” “covered drug,” and “healthcare service” for purposes of Medicaid and state insurance reimbursements, the Ithaca Journal reported. The bill would also permit private insurers to reimburse patients for MMJ, but would not require coverage by private insurance companies.

The bill has been sent to the Assembly Ways and Means Committee, and if successful there, it’ll be forwarded to the full Assembly floor for a vote.

The Senate companion measure is S02568.

As of March 1, New York state had 121,167 registered MMJ patients, according to the state Office of Cannabis Management.

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