By Ramona du Houx
The Maine Superior Court today ruled that the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the LePage administration must follow the voter-passed Medicaid expansion law and submit a State Plan Amendment.
The court set a deadline of June 11, 2018 for DHHS to comply.
“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. Thanks to today’s ruling, Governor Paul LePage will finally be forced to respect the will of Maine’s voters who voted overwhelmingly to expand Medicaid last November,” said the Democratic National Chairman Tom Perez. “It’s time for Republicans like LePage to stop playing political games with the health care of their own constituents and start getting serious about joining Democratic efforts to make it easier, not harder, for every family to access the care they deserve.”
Maine Equal Justice Partners, (MEJP) Consumers for Affordable Health Care, Maine Primary Care Association, Penobscot Community Health Care and five individuals sued the Maine Department of Health and Human Services on April 30, 2018.
“The governor cannot ignore the law,” said Robyn Merrill, executive director for MEJP. “Maine voters did not make a request at the ballot, they passed a law, and laws are not optional. Today’s ruling is good news for more than 70,000 Mainers who the law says can sign up for health care on July 2, 2018.”
The law Maine voters passed in November of 2017 required the state to file paperwork – a State Plan Amendment – with the federal government on April 3, 2018 so that Maine can draw down federal matching funds that will cover most of the costs for Medicaid expansion.
The LePage administration refused to file the State Plan Amendment.
The pro bono legal team in the expansion case is led by James Kilbreth and David Kallin of Drummond Woodsum, and includes Jack Comart of Maine Equal Justice and Charlie Dingman of PretiFlaherty.
Maine Equal Justice Partners is a civil legal aid organization that represents Maine people with low income in areas of economic security, including access to health care.
Photo: Concerned citizens protested outside the Maine State Capitol when Governor LePage was giving his State of the State address. Their message: obey the law Governor and implement the healthcare we the people voted for.