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LePage Seeks Stay Of Medicaid Expansion Order, Claiming Irreparable Harm To DHHS

Robert F. Bukaty
Associated Press
In this May 5, 2018, file photo Gov. Paul LePage speaks at the Republican Convention in Augusta, Maine. LePage has appointed the spokesman for a St. Croix River pulp and tiss

The LePage administration is requesting a stay on a court order to expand Medicaid.

The request filed Tuesday claims that Maine's Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) would suffer irreparable harm if forced to follow the order. The Department is preparing an appeal to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, but with only one month left in Governor LePage's term, supporters of expansion say the ongoing litigation is a waste of taxpayer money.

Last week, Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy ordered DHHS to start enrolling qualified Mainers under an expanded Medicaid program by December 5th. Pending an appeal, the LePage administration is seeking a stay on the grounds that the order compels DHHS to spend millions in funds appropriated for other purposes.

The request for a stay also argues that the department could spend more on expansion than anticipated because Maine does not yet have a guarantee of federal reimbursement retroactive to July 2, the start date that Justice Murphy ordered for the law.

Jack Comart of Maine Equal Justice Partners, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, says that with only one month left to go in LePage's term, the continuing litigation is not only a waste of money, it denies health care to Mainers with serious medical conditions.

A spokesperson for Governor LePage says that although the current administration can't control future administrations, it believes strongly in its constitutional arguments in the case and will pursue them to the end.

Updated 4:46 p.m.