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 governor has always been a staunch opponent of expansion, vetoing legislation five times. The federal government hasn't signaled whether it'll approve it.
The court said the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and the administration of Republican Gov. Paul LePage is required to meet the deadline to file the state plan amendment with the federal government.
LePage's office said he's reviewing the court decision. However, state officials asked the federal government to partially expand, meaning extending coverage to people living up to 100 of the federal poverty level, rather than the ACA's 138 percent.
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The governor said he wouldn't move ahead until state lawmakers found a way to fund the state's share of the cost - it will reach 10 percent in 2020 and beyond - without raising taxes on families or businesses, using one-time budget "gimmicks" or raiding a budget-stabilization fund. 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.
"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. 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.
A ME court said Monday that Governor. "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".