Maine Governor Defies Voters on Medicaid Expansion

Paul LePage is flouting ballot initiative, hindering efforts to implement ObamaCare program
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 24, 2018 8:20 AM CDT
In this Feb. 13, 2018, file photo, Gov. Paul LePage delivers the State of the State address to the Legislature at the State House in Augusta, Maine.   (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

(Newser) – Nearly 60% of Maine's voters gave the green light to Medicaid expansion in their state in a November ballot initiative, and individuals are supposed to become eligible for coverage starting July 2, per that mandate. But there's a wrench in the works in the form of Gov. Paul LePage, who is defying voters by refusing to adopt the ObamaCare program and missing paperwork deadlines, reports Politico. LePage has already five times vetoed bills related to the expansion, which would cover an estimated 80,000 low-income Maine adults. An expansion funding deal disintegrated last week just as Maine's legislative session wrapped up, and it's not clear if lawmakers will address the issue when they come back for a veto session later in the year.

Per MaineBiz.com, LePage says the expansion would throw Maine into a fiscal crisis and that his administration won't give the go-ahead unless lawmakers can guarantee funding without raising taxes or tapping into "rainy day" funds, among other conditions. But an article last month in the Modern Healthcare trade publication cites two recent reports, with one noting Medicaid expansion in 31 other states has so far brought about "negligible or minor" costs, and the other asserting that the cost is about half of what LePage says it will be. The next step for Medicaid expansion proponents in the Pine Tree State: heading to court. "The law is clear," a rep for advocacy group Maine Equal Justice Partners tells Politico. "People will have a right [to coverage] and we will represent them in court."

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