Rebecca Conley / Maine Public

In a 6-1 decision, Maine's highest court has ruled that the LePage administration must begin the process of implementing the Medicaid expansion law that voters passed last year.

The Month in Review: Analysis of July News in Maine

Jul 31, 2018

Our panel of Maine editorial page editors returns to discuss the news that made headlines in July.

Patty Wight / Maine Public

It's not just law enforcement that is lamenting the lack of funding for treatment of substance use disorders. A 16-bed residential treatment center in Portland is ending its program Friday due to fiscal challenges.

Gov. Paul LePage once called the center, Serenity House, a model for treatment. But Serenity House's executive director says insufficient state reimbursements and restrictions on the number of treatment beds forced the program to end.

A lawsuit that seeks to force Maine's health commissioner to implement Medicaid expansion is now before the state Supreme Judicial Court.

The LePage administration has appealed a lower court's order to start the process. But consumer advocacy groups have filed arguments against further delays for the law that's supposed to take effect in less than two weeks.

The LePage administration said Monday that it will fight a state judge's order directing the Governor to file paperwork to expand Medicaid services, despite the fact that Medicaid expansion was approved by Maine voters last year.

AP Photo

After the school shooting in Florida this week, President Trump vowed to “tackle the difficult issue of mental health.” But the president's proposed budget would cut many programs that provide mental health services.

President Trump's proposed budget does include some increases in funding for mental health. However, Dale Hamilton of Community Health and Counseling Services, says the overall takeaway for Maine is that “President Trump's budget will not advance access to mental health services.”

A legislative committee is considering new oversight options in response to a federal report that sharply criticized Maine for failing to investigate the deaths of Mainers with developmental disabilities in the Medicaid program.

A report from the Federal Office of the Inspector General (OIG) says the state failed to investigate the deaths of more than 130 Medicaid recipients with developmental disabilities. The OIG report found that nine of the deaths were unexplained, suspicious or untimely.

Tribes Say Medicaid Work Requirements Jeopardize Health Care

Jan 19, 2018

Tribal nations in Maine and around the country say a push backed by President Trump's administration to require certain Medicaid recipients to work or volunteer conflicts with the federal government's responsibility to provide health care to Native Americans.
Meanwhile, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services told tribal leaders Wednesday that requiring states to exempt Native Americans from work requirements could raise civil rights issues.
The Trump administration recently required states to consult with tribes before imposing work requirements.

The Trump administration announced Thursday that it’s committed to supporting states that want to require Medicaid recipients to work.

Maine is one of 10 states that’s seeking federal permission to do that. Gov. Paul LePage and other Republicans say the policy would help lift people out of poverty. But advocates for Medicaid recipients say implementing a work requirement would not only harm the people Medicaid is intended to help, it would also be illegal.

Major Shift As Trump Opens Way For Medicaid Work Requirement

Jan 11, 2018

WASHINGTON - The Trump administration says it's offering a path for states that want to seek work requirements for Medicaid recipients.
And that's a major policy shift toward low-income people.
Seema Verma heads the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and she's announcing the new approach. She says work and community involvement can make a positive difference in people's health.
But the plan probably will face opposition and legal challenges over concerns that people would lose coverage.

Question 2: Medicaid Expansion

Oct 23, 2017

Ballot Issue 2 on the November ballot reads: “An Act To Enhance Access to Affordable Health Care. Do you want Maine to expand Medicaid to provide healthcare coverage for qualified adults under age 65 with incomes at or below 138% of the federal poverty level, which in 2017 means $16,643 for a single person and $22,412 for a family of two?” Our panelists debate the pros and cons of the ballot measure.

Guests:  Garrett Martin, Executive Director of Maine Center for Economic Progress

New U.S. Census Bureau figures show that the number of Maine residents without health insurance stayed steady from 2015 to 2016.
According to a new federal report released Tuesday , Maine's uninsured rate of 8.6 percent is a drop from 11.2 percent in 2013.
About 106,000 Mainer residents lacked health insurance last year, down from 147,000 residents in 2013.
The 31 states that expanded Medicaid had an average uninsured rate of 6.5 percent in 2016. States such as Maine that didn't expand Medicaid saw an 11.7 percent uninsured rate.  

Maine’s Senators are to see the latest version of a Republican health care bill Thursday. They’re also due to get a visit from Will and Alicia Ethridge and their three-year-old son Wesley. The Ethridges, from York, plan to urge Senators Collins and King to preserve medicaid.

Will Ethridge says it has helped Wesley on a long-and-difficult medical journey that began days after he was born.

Report: More Kids Going Without Health Coverage in Maine

Jun 13, 2017

PORTLAND, Maine - A new report says the percentage of Maine children without health care coverage grew 50 percent in Maine during a five-year period that coincided with tightened Medicaid eligibility guidelines and the governor's decision not to expand Medicaid.
Neither of those actions by the LePage administration affected coverage for children, but child welfare advocates believe children nonetheless went off the Medicaid rolls when their parents lost coverage.

Patty Wight / Maine Public

The LePage administration is seeking federal permission to change the eligibility rules for MaineCare, the state version of Medicaid. If approved, able-bodied adults would have to meet work requirements and chip in on their health care.

State officials say the changes would make the program financially stable and help enrollees become self-sufficient. But at a public comment hearing in Portland on Wednesday, those opposed say the changes will cut access to health care, which contradicts the real purpose of Medicaid.