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Maine judge denies GOP governor's request to stay Medicaid expansion order

A judge in Maine on Thursday denied a request by the outgoing GOP governor to stay an order that the state implement Medicaid expansion.

The order from Justice Michaela Murphy is another loss in court for Gov. Paul LePage (R), who has for months refused to implement Medicaid expansion in the state despite its voters approving the expansion in a ballot initiative last year.

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The issue will soon become somewhat moot, though given that Democratic Governor-elect Janet Mills will be taking over next month, and she has promised to implement the Medicaid expansion.

The court on Thursday delayed a previous deadline it had set for enrollments in Medicaid expansion to begin from Dec. 5 to Feb. 1, meaning the new administration will be in place when enrollments start.

“This is good news in that the court is denying the request for a stay, at the same time the court is extending the deadline for rulemaking and enrollment to February 1st,” said Robyn Merrill, executive director of Maine Equal Justice Partners, the advocacy group suing in favor of implementing Medicaid expansion.

“The extension and the deadline will ensure that the new administration that supports Medicaid expansion will be implementing the law so that it’s done right, and people will get the care that they’re eligible for," Merrill added.

About 70,000 people in Maine are expected to gain coverage from the expansion of Medicaid.