Ultra Health Initiates Cannabis Coverage for Behavioral Health Services

New Mexico’s #1 cannabis company requests insurer confirmation to eliminate cannabis cost-sharing

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., Feb. 21, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Ultra Health, New Mexico’s #1 Cannabis Company, recently sent a letter to New Mexico’s prominent health insurers and New Mexico state departments to seek confirmation from insurers for cannabis coverage as a behavioral health service.

The communication is a response to a recent law that eliminated all cost-sharing and any out-of-pocket costs for behavioral health services and medications.

On January 1, 2022, Senate Bill 317 became effective to make mental and behavioral health services more affordable for New Mexicans.

The legislation expanded the definition of behavioral health services to cover several treatment options including “professional and ancillary services for the treatment, habilitation, prevention and identification of mental illnesses, substance abuse disorders and trauma spectrum disorders, including inpatient, detoxification, residential treatment, and partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient therapy, outpatient and all medications, including brand-name pharmacy drugs when generics are unavailable,” (emphasis added).

Currently, medical cannabis is a statutorily approved medication for a variety of behavioral health disorders including post-traumatic stress disorder, opioid use disorder, severe anorexia, and Parkinson’s disease under the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act. Nearly 73,000 New Mexicans of the total 130,000 Medical Cannabis Program enrollees currently qualify for medical cannabis treatment under behavioral health diagnoses.

“Ultra Health acknowledges that the idea of health insurers paying for medical cannabis may seem novel at first blush,” the six-page letter states. “However, as Ultra Health will discuss below, it is actually a rational, reasonable notion when considered in light of other New Mexico law. New Mexico already requires workers compensation insurers to pay for medical cannabis, and New Mexico already treats medical cannabis the same as conventional prescription medications. The fact that health insurers should—and will—pay for medical cannabis is not revolutionary at this point. It is the next logical step, and it is a small step, not a giant leap.”

Insurers currently pay for medical cannabis under New Mexico’s Workers Compensation Act, which allows injured workers to use and be reimbursed for medical cannabis when deemed “reasonable and necessary care.”

Cannabis coverage is also a validated service in other countries.

In Canada, insurers currently pay for medical cannabis through health benefit plans and worker benefits programs. Health insurers in Germany have paid for medical cannabis for several years. In January, Colombia mandated cannabis coverage for high and low THC medications, covering more than 50 million individuals. Some Israeli payors, including the Ministry of Defense, pay for medical cannabis coverage for service people with PTSD.

Ultra Health sent the letter to representatives from Presbyterian Healthcare Services, Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Mexico, Western Sky Community Care, Molina Healthcare of New Mexico, Office of the Superintendent of Insurance, New Mexico Federation of Labor, and the New Mexico State Personnel Office.

Ultra Health is New Mexico’s #1 Cannabis Company and the largest minority-owned cannabis company in the United States. The vertically-integrated provider currently operates 25 dispensary locations statewide, with another 10 stores slated to open by the first quarter of 2022. Ultra Health provides unparalleled medical cannabis care by producing accurately dosed, smokeless cannabis products such as sublingual tablets, oils, pastilles, suppositories and more through its partnership with Israeli pharmaceutical group Panaxia. Ultra Health has been at the forefront of patient-rights issues and continues to fight for adequate supply and rural access in the New Mexico cannabis market.

Marissa Novel