Court Orders Maine to Expand Medicaid -- as Voters Intended

Leslie Hanson
June 7, 2018

Murphy point by point rejected arguments put forward by the LePage administration explaining why it had not submitted plans with the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services within 90 days of the November 7 referendum vote approving Medicaid expansion, which was intended provide health care coverage to an estimated 70,000 low-income Mainers starting July 2. The administration missed the April 3 deadline for filing a plan with the federal government to start the process of expanding the government-funded health care program.

Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy minced no words in her 13-page ruling issued Monday, which orders Gov. Paul LePage's administration to begin implementing the Medicaid expansion approved by ME voters last November. An estimated 70,000 people with incomes up to 138% of the federal poverty level would qualify for coverage under the Affordable Care Act-authorized expansion. "Maine voters did not make a request at the ballot, they passed a law, and laws are not optional". In her ruling, Murphy disagreed with the state's position that the executive branch has no obligation to file a plan amendment until legislative appropriations to fund the expansion have been made. She also rejected the state agency's argument that it couldn't enter into a binding contract with the CMS to expand Medicaid without funding appropriated by the Legislature for the expansion. He has vowed not to allow the expansion to proceed unless the legislature finds a way to pay for it at his cost estimate, and without raising taxes or relying on state surpluses. He said he feels his side's chances of upholding the ruling on appeal are strong, given precedent from other legal challenges to citizen initiatives.

LePage's office said he's reviewing the court decision.

If Maine moves forward, it would be the 33rd state to expand Medicaid under the 2010 health law.

Utah is another state pursuing Medicaid expansion and work requirements. Last week, after five years of Republican obstructionism, the Virginia Legislature voted to expand Medicaid, providing 400,000 residents Medicaid insurance.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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