New York State is laying the groundwork for legal marijuana. On Wednesday, the New York Senate approved a bill that would require public health insurance to cover medical marijuana expenses. It’s one of the most important rulings for legal marijuana across states, one that would prove to the law that the plant has true medicinal value.
Per Marijuana Moment, the legislation, sponsored by Sen. Diane Savino, is currently waiting for Assembly approval. While the bill only requires public health insurance to participate, it encourages private insurance to do the same.
In order for medical marijuana to be covered by public health insurance services like Medicaid, Child Health Plus, and more, the state would have to define medical marijuana as a “prescription drug,” “covered drug” or “health care service.”
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“For thousands of patients, medical marijuana is a safer and more effective medication than other drugs, especially opioids,” reads a memo attached to the bill. “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.”
One of the biggest problems with medical marijuana has been the fact that a lot of health insurance programs across states don’t provide its coverage. Considering marijuana’s prices, this leaves many people out of options and has been a hindrance to legal marijuana programs all over the country.
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Medical marijuana has support across the board, from doctors who appreciate the plant’s medicinal qualities to patients who prefer it over prescription drugs. Marijuana’s public health insurance coverage is necessary for the drug to be viewed as a safe and valid medical option for the mainstream public.