Trump administration approves Medicaid expansion in Maine

The Trump administration on Wednesday approved Maine’s request to expand Medicaid under ObamaCare after more than a year of political battles.

According to Gov. Janet Mills (D), the administration’s approval is retroactive to July 2, 2018, the date the expansion was originally supposed to be implemented.

The expansion will cover an additional 70,000 people who earn about $17,000 a year or less.

Maine was the first state to approve expansion by a ballot initiative in 2017, but former GOP Gov. Paul LePage had long blocked it from taking effect. He argued that expansion was not adequately funded and vetoed a spending bill that would have funded it. LePage continued to oppose expansion even after a judge ordered him to start it.

When Mills took office in January, she signed an executive order instructing the state to move forward with the expansion.

As part of the expansion plan, the federal government will pay more than $800 million through fiscal 2021. ObamaCare requires the federal government to pay up to 90 percent of the costs for states to expand Medicaid coverage.

“This approval marks the culmination of a long-overdue effort to fulfill the will of Maine voters and help tens of thousands of people access health care,” Mills said in a statement. “The benefits of expansion — including this injection of hundreds of millions of dollars of federal funds — will extend to rural hospitals, to businesses, and to our economy as a whole."