Serving injured workers

In Albany Since 1925

How far does workers’ compensation go to naturally manage pain?

On Behalf of | Nov 6, 2020 | Workers' Compensation

Pain is a common result of workplace injuries and illnesses – how long you suffer may depend on the type of injury sustained, quality of treatment provided or your body’s natural healing ability. Since everyone’s experience and recovery are different, medical intervention can vary greatly.

New Yorkers registered as a certified patient may use medical marijuana to treat specified debilitating symptoms. However, should those conditions result from an on-the-job injury, will workers’ compensation cover the associated costs?

Qualifying conditions

In order to gain approval for the state’s medical marijuana program, your diagnosis must be life-threatening or debilitating. A practitioner may deem cannabis an appropriate care plan for diagnoses such as:

  • HIV or AIDS
  • Cancer
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)

Spinal cord damage resulting in seizures, tightened or stiffened muscles, and numbness or tingling in the extremities may also make you eligible.

Controversial remedies

A recent opinion determined Massachusetts’ workers’ compensation program will not provide reimbursement for medical marijuana, reportedly due to the conflict with illegality under federal legislation.

The neighboring state’s medical marijuana program has been in effect since 2012. Yet, some lawmakers assert allowing residents the opportunity to choose their pain-relieving treatment differs from funding that option through workers’ compensation insurance.

Could state officials be charged with federal crimes for funding the use of the illicit substance? They don’t want to take the chance.

The future is unclear – and benefits remain to be seen

That varying ideologies surround cannabis is nothing new. Accordingly, the reasons legislators support the adult use of marijuana vary greatly.

Now approved for use in 33 states, Governor Andrew Cuomo advocates for the legalization of cannabis to spark New York state’s economy in the aftermath of the pandemic. At the same time, it’s possible that representatives from both sides of the aisle may consider medical marijuana a favorable alternative to the opioid crisis.

Specific medical coding and reimbursement processes apply when medical marijuana is monitored and funded by workers’ compensation. A variance may allow coverage for conditions outside the scope of those specified for certified patients.