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Michigan Insurers Seek to Bar Workers' Comp Funding of Medical Marijuana

September 28, 2011
Related Topics: Awards, Workers' Compensation, Substance Abuse, Miscellaneous Legal Issues, Medical Benefits Law, Benefit Design and Communication, The HR Profession, Discrimination and EEOC Compliance, Policies and Procedures, Compensation, Benefits
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Michigan's insurance industry backs a proposed law that would prohibit the workers compensation system from funding claims for medical marijuana, according to the Insurance Institute of Michigan.

A bill already moving through the state legislature would prohibit auto insurers from paying for medical marijuana as part of medical claims resulting from accidents, which some car insurers have already done because of uncertainty over requirements under Michigan's medical marijuana law.

On Sept. 27, S.B. 321—the legislation that would prohibit auto insurers from funding claims for medicinal pot—was passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee and is expected to go before the full state Senate, an Insurance Institute of Michigan spokeswoman said.

The bill was introduced by Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge.

Auto insurers want the clarification because Michigan is the only state in the nation that holds them responsible for unlimited lifetime medical benefits, the spokeswoman said. That means they could be on the hook for a lifetime of medical marijuana payments.

The insurance industry wanted language banning workers comp insurers from paying for medical marijuana to be included in the auto bill, the spokeswoman said.

But now a separate workers comp bill is expected to be introduced this session as part of an overall effort to clarify requirements under Michigan's medical marijuana law, the spokeswoman added.

Michigan already prohibits commercial health insurers from paying for medical marijuana, the spokeswoman said.

Roberto Ceniceros writes for Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail editors@workforce.com.

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