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Medicaid Expansion Decision Put Off Until July

Maine's highest court has granted the LePage administration's request to delay expanding Medicaid, at least temporarily.

Medicaid expansion is supposed to take effect July 2, but the law is on hold until oral arguments in a lawsuit are heard in mid-July.

In a one-page order issued Wednesday, Chief Justice Leigh Saufley granted a temporary stay that gives the LePage administration more time to file a Medicaid expansion plan with the federal government, at least until after oral arguments on the matter are heard.

Maine Equal Justice Partners and other consumer advocacy groups filed a lawsuit against the state this spring after the LePage administration missed a deadline to begin implementing the law. A Superior Court justice found in their favor, but the LePage administration appealed and the matter will now be decided by the state Supreme Court.

Voters approved Medicaid expansion in a referendum last November, but Governor LePage has said he can't implement the law until the legislature funds it. Lawmakers approved a $35 million funding bill on Thursday, which faces a likely veto from LePage.

About 70,000 Mainers would get health coverage under Medicaid expansion, and the federal government would cover 90 percent of the cost.