ME must follow the voter-approved Medicaid expansion law and submit a plan by June 11 that starts the process for providing the health coverage for thousands of low-income people in the state, a Superior Court judge has ruled, the Press Herald reported on Tuesday.
Maine Medicaid advocates sued Mr. LePage's administration in April after it missed a deadline to submit an expansion plan to the federal government. Paul LePage must take a step to expand Medicaid as voters demanded in 2016. James Kilbreth, the attorney representing Maine Equal Justice Partners, the group seeking implementation of the expansion, said the state could easily submit the two-page state plan amendment form by June 11.
"The governor can not ignore the law", said Robyn Merrill, executive director for Maine Equal Justice Partners, said in a statement. A LePage spokeswoman said the governor's office is reviewing Murphy's ruling.
In her ruling, Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy disagreed with the state's position that the executive branch does not have to file a plan amendment until legislative appropriations to fund the expansion have been approved. The law passed by voters in November required the state to file the plan amendment paperwork by April 3. The governor has insisted that lawmakers fund the state share of Medicaid expansion without implementing tax hikes.
Although LePage did not react to the court decision Monday, he and his allies have acknowledged that Medicaid expansion is law. But expansion supporters argued the governor's estimate was too high. Just days after, LePage and state Republicans vowed to delay the voter-approved law. 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.
This is why it's likelier that Utah will expand Medicaid by ballot box.
U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, also hailed the court's ruling, saying, "The order is clear: The LePage administration can not veto Maine's voter-approved Medicaid expansion law".