Advocates: Medicaid Expansion Is In Legal Limbo, But Mainers Should Still Enroll

Dec 5, 2018

Legal advocates are urging eligible Mainers to enroll for health coverage under the state’s expanded Medicaid program, even though its implementation is in limbo.

Last week, a Superior Court judge ordered the state to implement expansion by Tuesday, Dec. 5. But that deadline has been suspended as the court considers a stay.

In Justice Michaela Murphy’s recent order, she not only directed the LePage administration to start enrollment by Dec. 5, she also directed the state to recognize July 2 as the official start date of the law. That means eligible Mainers can get coverage retroactively. And that’s why Robyn Merrill, executive director of the organization behind the lawsuit seeking to force implementation, says consumers should still enroll.

“There is no question that people are going to become eligible under the law that voters passed. I think what’s up in the air is exactly when,” she says.

Murphy has suspended the Dec. 5 enrollment date as she considers the LePage administration’s request for a stay on the order as it prepares to appeal. In court filings, an attorney for the LePage administration argues that the order compels the state to spend millions of dollars that have been appropriated for other purposes.

A decision on the stay request is expected any day. If the lawsuit isn’t resolved by the end of the year, incoming Gov. Janet Mills has vowed to make Medicaid expansion a top priority.

Originally published Nov. 4, 2018 at 5:17 p.m. ET.