Maine judge orders governor to stop stonewalling voter-approved Medicaid expansion

Paul Le Page.
(Image credit: AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

On Monday, a Maine Superior Court judge ordered Gov. Paul LePage (R) to move forward on a Medicaid expansion law approved by nearly 60 percent of voters in 2017, saying his administration's "complete failure to act" by the April 3 deadline "cannot be considered substantial compliance" with the new law. LePage, who had vetoed five bills to expand Medicaid in five years, argued that he would not enact the voter-approved law unless the legislature appropriated money for it without raising taxes. He also complained that the Medicaid expansion, allowed under the Affordable Care Act and mostly financed by the federal government, was a form of welfare.

Justice Michaela Murphy said the law was "clear and unambiguous" that LePage's administration had to send the federal government a plan to accept the Medicaid expansion by April 3, allowing lower-income residents to obtain coverage by July 2, and she gave him until June 11 to send the paperwork to Washington. A LePage spokeswoman said the governor's office is reviewing the ruling and did not say if he will appeal to the Maine Supreme Court. "Maine voters did not make a request at the ballot, they passed a law, and laws are not optional," said Robyn Merrill at Maine Equal Justice Partners, the lead plaintiff suing LePage. "Today's ruling is good news for more than 70,000 Mainers who the law says can sign up for health care on July 2."

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up
To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us
Peter Weber, The Week US

Peter has worked as a news and culture writer and editor at The Week since the site's launch in 2008. He covers politics, world affairs, religion and cultural currents. His journalism career began as a copy editor at a financial newswire and has included editorial positions at The New York Times Magazine, Facts on File, and Oregon State University.