LePage asks Maine court to toss suit aimed at forcing Medicaid expansion
AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Department of Health and Human Services asked a Maine court this week to throw out a lawsuit seeking to force Gov. Paul LePage’s administration to implement voter-approved Medicaid expansion.
The state’s response to the lawsuit filed by expansion advocates last month in Kennebec County Superior Court is a more formal version of the case that the Republican governor has long made: He can’t implement a law that hasn’t yet been funded by the Legislature.
Maine voters approved expanding Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act in a 2017 referendum that gave the LePage administration until April 3 to send an expansion plan to the federal government and start covering some of the 70,000 eligible residents by July 2.
But LePage, who vetoed expansion bids five times before the referendum passed, has erected high hurdles for the Legislature to fund the new law. He has said it must be funded at a contested estimate from his administration and that he wouldn’t approve any mechanism that raised taxes or touched the state’s reserve fund.
Democrats have argued that the law doesn’t have to be fully funded immediately. Advocates have said LePage is in clear violation of the law and that the state’s surplus — estimated earlier this year at more than $130 million— could be used by the administration to implement it.
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