New York Bill Would Require Some Health Insurers to Cover Medical Cannabis

A New York proposal would require some health insurers to cover medication costs for state-registered medical cannabis patients.

Full story after the jump.

A bill in New York would require some health insurers to cover medical cannabis for state-registered patients by deeming it a “prescription drug,” “covered drug,” or “health care service,” Staten Island Live reports. A memo attached to the bill, states that “Access to medical marijuana should not be limited to those who can pay out of pocket. Efforts by registered organizations to offer discounts have helped, but are inadequate for many low-income patients.”

“Some state is going to have to force this issue,” state Sen. Diane Savino (D) said on the Senate floor. “I believe that our state is the one that should lead the way on this.”

If approved, the law would apply to public health insurers in the state, including Medicaid, Child Health Plus, Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC), and Essential Plan programs.

The legislation would also authorize the health commissioner to certify medical cannabis dispensing sites as Medicaid providers solely for dispensing medical cannabis. Under current New York state law, practitioner office visits related to patient evaluation and certification for medical cannabis are Medicaid-reimbursable services, and practitioners who participate with Medicaid are prohibited from asking for payment for medical cannabis certification from the member, regardless of whether the certification is provided during the initial office visit or subsequent to the first visit, according to the state Office of Cannabis Management.

The measure is currently in the Senate Health Committee.

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