Gov. LePage urges feds to reject Medicaid expansion for Maine

Gov. Paul LePage is urging the Trump administration to reject Maine’s request to expand Medicaid coverage.

Voters last year approved expanding Medicaid coverage to between 70,000 and 90,000 low-income Mainers.

The Maine Supreme Court last month ordered the LePage administration to submit what is called a state plan amendment to the federal government. The plan was submitted this week.

The plan notifies the federal government of the state’s plans to expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

In a letter accompanying the state plan amendment, LePage urged the federal government to deny Maine’s request due to a lack of dedicated state funding.

“CMS should not accept an SPA (state plan amendment) in circumstances in which the state has no legislative commitment ensuring that it can comply with its obligations,” the letter said.

Joan Clinton, who is technically eligible for Medicaid coverage under the expansion approved by voters, has had her application denied as the legal battle continues.

“The energy that’s been put into fighting on both sides, if that could be put into ‘How do we make this work?’ Well, that would be much better,” Clinton said.

An attorney for supporters of Medicaid expansion said the governor’s latest attempts to block it are troubling but not surprising.

“The statute says — and the court’s order said — that they should file a plan that ensured eligibility, and this is a plan that is submitted with the express intention of preventing eligibility,” attorney Jamie Kilbreth said.

Kilbreth said the law is the law.

“There’s nothing about the CMS review process that anything the governor said should affect,” Kilbreth said.

The federal government has 90 days to act on the plan filed by the state. Kilbreth said he plans to file a rebuttal to the governor’s letter.

The next court date in the legal battle over Medicaid expansion is Sept. 27.

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