Medicaid supporters urge Trump officials to approve expansion in Maine

Medicaid supporters urge Trump officials to approve expansion in Maine
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Supporters of Medicaid expansion in Maine are pressuring the Trump administration to approve the state’s application to expand the program under ObamaCare, despite the GOP governor’s opposition.

Maine Equal Justice Partners, an advocacy group that is pushing for Medicaid expansion, wrote in a letter to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) dated Sept. 14 that the administration should approve the expansion, noting that Maine residents voted in favor of expansion in a ballot measure last year. Maine Speaker of the House Sara Gideon (D) wrote a similar letter Tuesday urging the Trump administration to approve it.

Despite the vote last year enacting Medicaid expansion, Gov. Paul LePage (R) has refused to implement it. LePage submitted an application for Medicaid expansion earlier this month after a court ordered him to do so, but he also sent a letter to the Trump administration urging it to reject the application.

The showdown sets up a decision for the administration on what it will do in the face of an application for expansion that supporters say is legally required, but that is opposed by a fellow Republican in LePage.

Advocates say the law requires Medicaid expansion to take effect.

“Expanding the Medicaid Program is by federal law a step that Maine is entitled to take, and the choice to take that step is now the established law of the State of Maine,” Charles Dingman, a lawyer for Maine Equal Justice Partners, wrote in last week's letter to CMS.

LePage has argued that Medicaid expansion would be unsustainable for the state budget and has called on the legislature to fund the expansion. However, when the legislature passed a bill to provide funding this year, LePage vetoed it, arguing it would “harm the economy.”

Advocates say it is not up to the Trump administration to second guess the state law of Maine enacting Medicaid expansion.

"His request for you to reject the [application] are contrary to the duly enacted law of the State of Maine, which establishes that Maine has in fact elected to participate in expansion,” Gideon writes.