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HARRISBURG—At a recent budget hearing, a Republican lawmaker cited an ongoing public records dispute involving the Department of Health to explain how the Department of Health data oversight of physicians in Pennsylvania’s medical cannabis program. I wondered if I was using
The state’s Office of Public Records ordered the Department of Health to publish the number of approvals by specific physicians where such records exist. However, the agency sued to keep those records secretadvocating a broader interpretation of the confidentiality provisions of the Medical Cannabis Act.
At least three lawsuits centered on this issue are currently pending in Commonwealth Court. Spotlight PA has defended him in two of them.
State Senator Greg Rothman (Republican, Cumberland) referred to these incidents when questioning Acting State Health Secretary Debra Bogen. He did not ask Bogen to comment on the data release.
“But I would like to know if your department is reviewing this information,” Rothman said. “And is the department protecting doctors from outright approving medical marijuana use?”
Bogen didn’t directly say how the agency would use the data, or whether it would regularly review information patterns or outliers. Instead, the department handles complaints against doctors, who must prove they have complied with legal requirements to qualify patients, she said.
“It’s difficult to see how many authentications a particular provider has done, because some providers authenticate more patients than others because of the nature of their work,” Bogen testified. bottom. “And looking at the numbers alone doesn’t really give you that kind of information.”
Rothman’s question follows a series of investigative articles on Spotlight PA. Serious Flaws in Medical Cannabis Program Revealed These include questionable health claims, weak oversight of cannabis companies, and unfair rules for doctors.
Public records obtained by the Spotlight Pennsylvania state show that the department cited patient authorization numbers in at least one disciplinary case against a doctor. In another disciplinary action against doctors, health officials’ lawyers argued that “the total number of patients is related to the doctors’ time and ability to qualify patients.”
Responding to Spotlight Pennsylvania’s question, Department of Health spokesman Mark O’Neill said approval data was being scrutinized in limited circumstances and that it was “part of enforcement actions arising from patient complaints and compliance investigations. We use the information only as a
O’Neill also said that unless the court rules otherwise, government agencies “will continue to interpret the law in ways that best protect patient and practitioner information, consistent with our ongoing commitment to privacy rights and confidentiality.” ‘ and defended against publicly disclosing approval data.
As of late March, there were more than 425,000 active certifications for medical cannabis patients and more than 1,800 licensed physicians participating in the program, compared to the tens of thousands of licensees in the state. relatively few doctors have Physicians must be registered with the state and complete a four-hour training program to participate in the program.
Among medical personnel, People, including medical cannabis advocates, want health agencies to audit doctors’ records to ensure compliance, Do not rely solely on patient complaints to initiate investigations.
during February TribLIVE editorial We asked the health department to make the approval data public. This information provides important background for the approval of medical cannabis, revealing “whether the process is deliberative, or whether it is an all-access pass beyond the program’s velvet ropes by simply paying for certification.” argued that it could help to
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https://www.spotlightpa.org/news/2023/05/pa-medical-marijuana-data-health-department-lawmaker/ Questions Over Oversight of Pennsylvania Medical Cannabis Doctors Spotlight PA