Published: Thu, June 07, 2018
Medical | By Johnnie Horton

Court: Maine governor must take step to expand Medicaid

Court: Maine governor must take step to expand Medicaid

"The governor can not ignore the law", said Robyn Merrill, executive director of Maine Equal Justice Partners, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit and the group that led the ballot initiative campaign. The LePage administration is expected to ask Murphy to stay her order pending an appeal to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. 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. But the judge held that the law overwhelmingly passed by ME voters in November is clear and unambiguous. Kennebec County Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy ultimately sided with advocates, ordering the state to comply with the November referendum.

Maine Equal Justice Partners is a civil legal aid organization that represents Maine people with low income in areas of economic security, including access to health care.

The judge ordered the administration to submit a plan by June 11 updating the terms of its Medicaid program, which was supposed to offer coverage to new enrollees July 2. 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.

Although LePage did not react to the court decision Monday, he and his allies have acknowledged that Medicaid expansion is law.

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"Today is a victory for the 70,000 Mainers who stand to gain coverage from Medicaid expansion and for everyone who believes that health care should be a right for all, not just a privilege for a wealthy few", Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said in a prepared statement.

This is why it's likelier that Utah will expand Medicaid by ballot box. 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.

"Thanks to today's ruling, Gov. Paul LePage will finally be forced to respect the will of Maine's voters, who voted overwhelmingly to expand Medicaid last November".

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