Pennsylvania Supreme Court to Decide on Workers’ Compensation Coverage for CBD Oil Treatment

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is set to deliberate on whether CBD oil qualifies as a reimbursable medical expense under workers’ compensation laws. Attorney Mark R. Schmidt, with over three decades of experience in workers’ compensation law, initiated the legal battle after being denied reimbursement by his employer for CBD oil expenses related to a work-related back injury.

Schmidt, previously employed at PMA Insurance Co. defending employers, transitioned to representing injured workers in 1994. His injury occurred in April 2017 while performing work duties, aggravating a preexisting degenerative disc disease.

Despite initial approval of his lower back injury claim and a mandate for “reasonable and necessary” medical expenses, Schmidt faced resistance when seeking reimbursement for CBD oil, prescribed alongside other medications for pain management.

His employer rejected reimbursement, arguing that CBD oil, purchased over the counter, did not meet the criteria of a pharmaceutical drug or a reimbursable medical supply.

The Workers’ Compensation Board initially ruled in favor of Schmidt, acknowledging CBD oil as a legitimate medical supply. However, the decision was overturned on appeal, citing concerns over FDA regulations and the potential precedent for reimbursing unregulated remedies.

Schmidt’s appeal contends that the board overstepped its authority by disregarding established facts and failed to address the classification of CBD oil as a medical supply.

The Commonwealth Court, in a previous ruling, interpreted the Workers’ Compensation Act liberally to include CBD oil within the definition of reimbursable medicines and supplies, emphasizing the act’s humanitarian objectives.

The upcoming Supreme Court hearing will scrutinize key issues, including the inclusion of CBD oil as a reimbursable expense, the applicability of cost containment regulations, and the obligations of employers and insurers regarding out-of-pocket medical expenses.

While CBD oil’s status remains uncertain, the court’s decision could have broader implications for workers’ compensation coverage of alternative treatments.

Notably, Pennsylvania’s workers’ compensation law already encompasses medical marijuana costs, as established in a previous Commonwealth Court ruling.

Despite this precedent, the debate over CBD oil highlights ongoing challenges in defining and regulating non-traditional medical treatments within the workers’ compensation framework.

Leave a Comment