In 2016, I wrote two articles, for two different outlets, about research on the impact of state marijuana legislation on Medicare beneficiary prescription medication use. Of course I wondered what the results would be for the Medicaid beneficiary population and was told to sit tight.
- Reducing prescription medication use with medical marijuana
- Doctors Increasingly Prescribe Medical Marijuana For Pain Relief
Well, only a few months later the data is in and once again patients in the 28 states and the District of Columbia are less likely to fill prescriptions for the nine conditions than those in other states.
The new study, released by Health Affairs, shows that in five of the nine clinical areas there was a significant negative association between the presence of state medical marijuana laws and prescriptions filled for each category by Medicaid beneficiaries (see exhibit below). The authors also estimate that if all states had had a medical marijuana law in 2014, the total savings for fee-for-service Medicaid could have been $1.01 billion.
The discussions have begun and hopefully wise clinicians, administrators and policy makers will create realistic guidance for the benefit of patients. I also hope the amount of BIG business will be limited in this area so we can avoid creating yet another bull in the china shop for healthcare.