The public sector is the part of the government, such as the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), US Department of Labor (DOL), US Department of Education, US Department of Agriculture, and US Department of Treasury, that tries to provide health care and public services for the poor, underprivileged, uninsured, underinsured, and disabled to decrease health disparities (Welfare Information, n.d.). In the United States, the government tries to provide programs to help people that have low or no income. Welfare programs include Medicaid, Medicare, Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), tax discounts such as Earned income Tax Credit (EITC), Child Welfare Services, Head Start, and Work Study (Welfare Information, n.d.). Welfare benefits and economic assistance includes food stamps, vocational rehabilitation, unemployment compensation, housing and utility benefits, health care services (medical, prescriptions, dental, vision), alcohol and substance abuse programs, child care assistance, and direct cash payments (Welfare Information, n.d., Kraft & Furlong, 2015). The purpose of welfare is to try to encourage people to move from welfare to work according to the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act signed by Bill Clinton (The Center for Media and Democracy, 2011). Poverty is defined as an annual income less than $23,850 for a family of four (Kraft & Furlong, 2015).
Since medical marijuana is not legal under the federal government, insurance does not cover it and it is not tax deductible (Campbell, 2014). However, people who participate in the Food Stamps or SNAP program do get a 50% discount on the cost of a registry identification card and the price is reduced from $150 to $75 for initial and annual renewal cards (Arizona Department of Health, n.d.). There is also no special tax on medical marijuana besides Arizona’s sales tax (Arizona Department of Health, n.d.). Medical marijuana in Arizona typically costs around $280-$400 an ounce out-of-pocket (GivingTree Wellness Center, 2015). A personal interview with Dr. Gina Mecagni (February 8, 2015), Medical Director of The Giving Tree Wellness Center, states that the costs to get a medical marijuana card are too high. Most patients have to pay an extra $150 on top of the state application to get a medical marijuana card to find a Medical Marijuana Evaluator, because most family physicians will not recommend medical marijuana (G. Mecagni, telephone interview, February 8, 2015). These visits usually cost $150 and are not covered by insurance (Hays, 2013).
Arizona Department of Health Services. (n.d.). Qualifying patients. Retrieved from http://www.azdhs.gov/medicalmarijuana/faqs/index.php?pg=qualifying-patients
Campbell, J. (2014). Is medical marijuana tax deductible? Retrieved from http://marijuanapatients.org/medical-marijuana-tax-deductible/
GivingTree Wellness Center. (2015). Phoenix menu: Flowers. Retrieved from http://www.givingtreeaz.com/product-category/phoenix-menu/flowers-phoenix-menu/
Hays, C. (2013). How to get a medical marijuana card in Arizona in 4 easy steps. Retrieved from http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/jackalope/2013/09/get_medical_marijuana_card_arizona_mmj_weed.php
Kraft, M.E., & Furlong, S.R. (2015). Public policy: Politics, analysis, and alternatives (5th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
The Center for Media and Democracy. (2011). 1996 personal responsibility and work opportunity reconciliation act. Retrieved from http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=1996_Personal_Responsibility_and_Work_Opportunity_Reconciliation_Act
Welfare Information. (n.d.). What is welfare state? Retrieved from http://www.welfareinfo.org/state/