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Judge Rejects Latest LePage Administration Challenge To Medicaid Expansion

Robert F. Bukaty
Associated Press
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.

Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy has denied the LePage administration’s request for a stay on a court order that directs the Maine Department of Health and Human Services to implement Medicaid expansion.Last week, Justice Murphy ordered DHHS to begin enrolling eligible Mainers under an expanded Medicaid program on Dec. 5. An attorney for the LePage administration requested a stay, claiming that opening enrollment without dedicated funding for the program would cause the department irreparable harm.

In Murphy’s decision issued Thursday, she says DHHS has “persisted in hyperbolic claims of fiscal calamity.” She also admonished the department for delaying implementation for hundreds of Mainers who have already applied, and for failing to post jobs for the 100 new positions DHHS claims it needs to implement expansion.

Murphy did, however, extend the deadline for the department to begin enrollment until Feb. 1 of next year.

Robyn Merrill of Maine Equal Justice Partners, the group leading the lawsuit to force the LePage administration to implement Medicaid expansion, says in a written statement that the deadline extension will "ensure that the new administration that supports Medicaid expansion will be implementing the law so that it’s done right."

"While we don't like the delay, I think there is value in having this handled and implemented by the next administration that actually believes in it," says  Merrill.

She is urging the estimated 70,000 eligible Mainers to enroll because the effective date of the law is retroactive to July 2nd, as directed in an earlier court order.

Coverage will be retroactive to July 2nd for eligible Mainers, as directed in an earlier court order.

Updated 5:21 p.m. Nov. 6