Bills Introduced in State House and Senate Would Legalize Medical Marijuana Insurance Coverage – Lowell Sun

Medical marijuana, used for to treat Everything from chronic pain to Parkinson’s disease to PTSD is still not covered by medical insurance, a cost some say is prohibitive for those who depend on the drug.

“Cannabis is a medicine, there is no question,” Dr Ryan Zacklin, who works in the MassGeneral Brigham Network, said during a hearing in Beacon Hill. “Medicines, everything is covered by insurance. There is no reason why this should not be the case.

A bill introduced by State Representative David LeBoeuf, D-Worcester, in the House and the Senses. Julian Cyr, D-Truro and Jason Lewis, D-Winchester, would legalize health insurance coverage for medical marijuana products and associated clinical visits.

Zacklin told the Joint Committee on Financial Services hearing that patients, who pay annual fees for drugs, do not come to him for marijuana. Instead, “they come to me for the pain, they come to me for anxiety, they come to me for insomnia, and that’s part of what I do,” he said. He added that cost is one of the biggest treatment barriers he sees in his practice.

One estimate on PriceofWeed.com put Massachusetts costs well above the national average: An ounce of “medium quality” head costs $ 282 in Bay State, whereas nationally that price would be of $ 256.

Since cannabis is still considered a Schedule I drug by the Drug Enforcement Administration and is not yet approved by the FDA, Massachusetts does not allow health insurers to pay for marijuana. for medical purposes. The Supreme Judicial Court reaffirmed this decision in Massachusetts last year, as CommonWealth magazine reported.

A spokesperson for the Massachusetts Association of Health Plans said in a statement that health insurers were covering a drug derived from cannabis, Epidiolex, a seizure drug. Insurers also cover three synthetic cannabis-related pharmaceuticals that treat nausea and anorexia: Marinol, Syndros, and Cesamet.

“The FDA plays an important role in supporting scientific research on various drugs to assess their medical efficacy, appropriate dosage, determine the best route of administration, and test for possible drug interactions,” MAHP said in a statement. “Because medical marijuana is not yet approved by the FDA, Massachusetts health plans do not offer coverage. “

Several patients who depend on medical marijuana for chronic illnesses testified Tuesday, arguing that the cost may keep them from this essential treatment.

Jennifer Van, 42, suffers from several chronic illnesses, including ulcerative colitis, anxiety, PTSD and endometriosis, and is also a cancer survivor. She said she takes at least 15 medications a day, including two opiates and three controlled substances.

“I could replace at least eight of my medical cannabis medications and get rid of them altogether if I could afford it or if my health insurance covered it. However, I cannot, ”she said. “They will pay for high dose opiates or controlled substances, but they will not pay for medical cannabis. “


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Justin D. O'Neill