Maine Attorney General William Schneider has taken legal action to urge a ruling on state cuts to Medicaid that could run afoul of the national Affordable Care Act, which in 2014 will expand the program that provides access to health care for the poor.
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld most of the ACA but threw out a provision that would have taken away federal Medicaid funds from any states that do not expand the program.
The LePage administration viewed that ruling as a go-ahead for a budget plan approved by the Legislature to trim $20 million – translating to around 36,000 people – from the state's Medicaid budget without facing loss of federal program funds, according to the Bangor Daily News.
With that budget-trimming cut set to take effect in October, the LePage administration requested on Aug. 1 that the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services allow the state to amend its Medicaid State Plan, also known as MaineCare, to reflect the program eligibility changes approved by the Legislature.
In a statement issued Tuesday, Schneider said the state was notified Friday that the CMS would not have a decision on the requested change by the time the budget cuts are to take effect.
As a result, the statement continues, Schneider has submitted a petition to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit for review of "CMS's failure to act upon Maine's request" for changes to its state Medicaid plan.
In addition, Schneider indicated, the state has also filed a motion with that court to argue that the state should be able to make its cuts effective as scheduled on Oct. 1, with CMS making up the additional program costs until a final ruling on those cuts is made.
"We anticipate that the First Circuit will resolve this matter expeditiously," Schneider said.