Cincinnati hospitals reluctantly realize that medical marijuana is coming to town

Cincinnati hospitals reluctantly realize that medical marijuana is coming to town

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When will medical marijuana in Ohio be available? Will I need a prescription? Can I use it for recreation? Marilyn Icsman/The Enquirer Buy Photo Mason nurse-practitioner Teaera Roland has long wanted to bring medical marijuana into her work with patients. But she couldn’t do that and still work for Mercy Health. “I understand their reluctance,” she said. “Once you’re a corporate provider, you have to follow their rules.” For Greater Cincinnati’s hospital systems, the coming of medical marijuana means that certain questions can’t be avoided much longer. Can employee doctors recommend what still is a federally outlawed drug? Will patients with state permits, including children, be allowed to use medical marijuana when hospitalized? The Enquirer asked officials of the region’s hospitals how they plan to work with a new drug-delivery system set to open in September and expected to draw at least 200,000 Ohioans under 21 qualifying conditions. Some systems took weeks to respond. All needed legal sign off before answering. There’s a reason for the hesitation: Hospitals receive millions of dollars in federal taxpayer money for research or patient care through Medicare or Medicaid. Handling a federally banned drug in a hospital, even when Ohio law says OK, would complicate access to those federal dollars. Health insurance companies are also examining how to proceed. Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield and UnitedHealthcare said they will not cover medical marijuana that is not FDA-approved or doctor visits specifically to get a card. Medicaid and Medicare do not pay for medical marijuana in any way. Mercy Health Mercy Health, for one, votes no. The Catholic health system, the largest in Ohio and based Bond Hill, “is not recommending its physicians to undergo the two-hour certification program,” said spokeswoman Nanette Bentley. For Roland, that attitude was the push she needed to leave […]

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