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June 8, 2018

LePage administration appeals court ruling on Medicaid expansion

Courtesy / Matthew Gagnon, Wikimedia Commons
Courtesy / Matthew Gagnon, Wikimedia Commons
The LePage administration filed on Thursday an appeal of Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy's ruling that directs the LePage administration to requiring the state to file an amended plan by Monday with the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to initiate expanded Medicaid coverage. The appeal requests an expedited hearing by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court in the dispute.

In a move widely expected, the LePage administration on Thursday filed an appeal of Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy's ruling on Monday ordering the state to begin the expansion of Medicaid approved by voters in last November's statewide referendum.

The Portland Press Herald reported that the appeal was filed with the Maine Supreme Judicial Court in Portland on behalf of Ricker Hamliton, commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, who had been named in the lawsuit filed on April 30 by Maine Equal Justice Partners, Consumers for Affordable Health Care, Maine Primary Care Association, Penobscot Community Health Care and five individuals.

In her 13-page ruling, Murphy ordered the LePage administration to file a state plan to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services by Monday, June 11, to initiate the expanded Medicaid coverage.

The Press Herald reported that the LePage administration's appeal requested an expedited hearing and indicated the state will not file a plan amendment with the federal CMS until the matter is resolved by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.

Jack Comar, an attorney for Maine Equal Justice Partners, told the newspaper in an email that the appeal was expected.

"Until a court says otherwise, it is our position that the commissioner must comply with the order of the Superior Court and submit the state plan amendment on Monday," he wrote.

Murphy's June 11 deadline for the state's filing of an amended state plan was intended to initiate the process of extending Medicaid coverage to approximately 70,000 low-income Mainers who would become eligible, under the voter-approved expansion, as of July 2.

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