A showdown is emerging between the LePage administration, which submitted paperwork Wednesday justifying cuts to the state's Medicaid program, and the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which must approve the cuts in order for them to go forward.
The federal CMS approval is not likely given the provision in the Obama administration's health care reform law prohibiting states from scaling back existing Medicaid services, reports the Bangor Daily News. At stake is continued Medicaid coverage for 36,000 Maine residents, who would be cut under the $20 million reduction in Medicaid spending proposed by the LePage administration and approved by the Republican-controlled Legislature this spring to balance the state budget. The cuts, planned for Oct. 1, would eliminate coverage for 19- and 20-year-olds, tighten income eligibility requirements for low-income parents and scale back Medicaid access for elderly residents who also qualify for Medicare benefits, the BDN reported.
The state's Medicaid plan amendment requires federal approval -- something LePage and Maine Attorney General William Schneider insist should be granted but which Democrats and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius say is precluded by the health care law's "maintenance of effort" requirement.