NM company sues to force health insurers to cover medical cannabis

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A licensed medical cannabis company in New Mexico known for its lawsuits has filed another, this time in an attempt to force seven major insurance companies to reimburse about 74,000 patients in the state for their MMJ products.

According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, Ultra Health filed the suit in district court against:

  • Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico.
  • Cigna Health and Life Insurance Co.
  • Molina Healthcare of New Mexico.
  • Presbyterian Insurance Co.
  • Presbyterian Health Plan.
  • True Health New Mexico.
  • Western Sky Community Care.

The lawsuit is based on a state law passed in 2021 that requires all insurers to reimburse patients 100% for the cost of any care related to mental or behavioral health.

Ultra Health, the largest MMJ operator in New Mexico, contends in the suit that post-traumatic stress disorder qualifies as such under the new law, and, therefore, the cost of medical cannabis for PTSD patients should be completely covered.

The lawsuit – a class action on behalf of six plaintiffs, including Democratic state Sen. Jacob Candelaria – seeks “millions” in punitive damages, the New Mexican reported.

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Ultra Health President Duke Rodriguez, who filed the suit, told the New Mexican he estimates that about 55% of the state’s registered MMJ patients use cannabis to treat some form of PTSD or other behavioral health issue, which is about 74,000 patients.

“The idea of health insurance plans paying for medical cannabis may seem like an impossible dream, but all the foundational elements have already fallen into place,” Rodriguez said in a news release.

Ultra Health has prevailed in lawsuits ranging from its right to open more dispensaries to New Mexico’s overly restrictive rules for out-of-state customers.