Medicaid To Cover Medical Marijuana? Yes, Under Proposed Bill From New York Lawmakers

Do Medicaid and Medicare cover medical marijuana?

The short answer is no, even though one in five Medicare recipients are users of medical cannabis, according to last year’s poll by the Medicare Plans Patient Resource Center.

In that Medicare and Medicaid are federal health insurance programs and with cannabis still being illegal on the federal level and not regulated by the FDA, the picture gets complicated.

But on a state level, some are paving the way to state-funded insurance payments covering the cost of medical cannabis products for patients, instead of medical office visits only.

New York lawmakers, for example, are behind a bill A04713, which seeks to allow Medicaid and other state health insurance providers to pay for medical marijuana treatment, reported The Ithaca Journal.

The Assembly version from Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes (D), Dr. Anna R. Kelles (D) and Donna A. Lupardo (D) advanced through the Assembly Health Committee on an 18-7 vote. Senate companion measure S2568, introduced by state Sen. Jeremy Cooney (D-Rochester) is pending a hearing.

Under the bill, Medicaid, Child Health Plus, workers’ compensation, and EPIC programs would be obliged to pay for medical cannabis as a “prescription drug,” “covered drug,” or “healthcare service.”

“For thousands of patients, medical marijuana is a safer and more effective medication than other drugs, especially opioids,” the bill stipulates. “While it can be prohibitively expensive for many patients, especially in the absence of insurance coverage, it may often be less expensive than what their insurance coverage pays for other medications.”

The legislation is now headed to the Ways & Means Committee, being its last stop before the Assembly floor.

Photo: Courtesy of BestStockFoto on Shutterstock

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