Medical Marijuana Laws Affect Medicare Part D Spending

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Medical Marijuana Laws Affect Medicare Part D Spending
Medical Marijuana Laws Affect Medicare Part D Spending

FRIDAY, July 8, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Legalization of medical marijuana and its associated availability have affected prescribing patterns and spending in Medicare Part D, according to a study published online July 6 in Health Affairs.

Ashley C. Bradford, and W. David Bradford, Ph.D., both from the University of Georgia in Atlanta, used data on all prescriptions filled by Medicare Part D enrollees from 2010 to 2013 to examine whether medical marijuana is being used clinically to any significant degree.

The researchers found that once a medical marijuana law was implemented, there was a significant decrease in the use of prescription drugs for which marijuana could serve as a clinical alternative. When states implemented medical marijuana laws, the national overall reductions in Medicare program and enrollee spending were estimated to be $165.2 million per year in 2013.

"The availability of medical marijuana has a significant effect on prescribing patterns and spending in Medicare Part D," the authors write.

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