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Medi-Cal Pays Pot-Related Expenses


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Sylvia Price's four-year struggle with Medi-Cal officials has ended with the agency reimbursing her for medical marijuana-related expenses.

Medi-Cal issued her a $4,263 check May 29, eight months after the California Department of Health Services determined her medical marijuana expenses are "bona fide" and can be used to reduce the amount she had been paying for a state-sponsored caregiver.

Price, 59, is a Clearlake resident who relies on marijuana to help her cope with disabling ailments that include lupus, seizures, osteoporosis and reflex sympathetic dystrophy.

She calls marijuana "a gift from God."

She said she has increased her weight from 92 pounds to 115 pounds and has felt well enough to go on several cruises, which require little physical activity.

State health officials are unaware of anyone else using medical marijuana to offset their share-of-cost for Medi-Cal services.

The reimbursement check covers a period between May 2003 and May 2004.

For almost three years prior to that period, Price had been allowed to deduct the cost of her marijuana -- $430 a month -- from the amount she was required to pay toward her $1,300-a-month home care services. Her long-time companion and medical marijuana supplier, Terry Robl, also is her home-care provider.

Price wanted others in her situation to similarly benefit, so she went public in April 2003. Shortly afterward, county Social Services officials terminated her medical marijuana deduction, saying it was in conflict with federal laws that continue to outlaw marijuana.

Price and Roble appealed and a series of administrative hearings followed.

The 2006 decision means that other medical marijuana patients who receive public assistance through the Department of Health Services should be eligible for similar reimbursements, according to the Drug Policy Alliance, which represented Price.

Robl said he believes the decision also could lead to private insurance companies accepting medical marijuana as a legitimate medical expense.

Buoyed by their victory, Price and Robl are now asking Medi-Cal to reimburse Price for another $16,000 for out-of-pocket marijuana expenses incurred before and since 2003.

Such requests will be denied, said Department of Health Care Services spokesman Mike Bowman. While medical marijuana expenses can be applied to a deductible, Medi-Cal cannot pay for the marijuana itself because it is not FDA approved, he said.

"Medical marijuana is not a covered benefit under Medi-Cal," he said.

News Mod: CoZmO - 420 Magazine
Source: The Press Democrat (Santa Rosa, CA)
Author: Glenda Anderson
Contact: glenda.anderson@pressdemocrat.com
Copyright: 2007 The Press Democrat
Website: Santa Rosa Press Democrat
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Cool! Good for her!:3::peace:
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