Maine: BREAKING: Judge Orders Gov. LePage To Stop Acting Like Utter Jackass
A state court in Maine has ruled that Gov. Paul LePage (R) must submit the paperwork necessary to move forward on expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act to cover about 70,000 more low-income people in the state.
In her ruling, state judge Michaela Murphy slammed LePage’s health department for unilaterally blocking the expansion’s implementation since voters overwhelmingly approved it by ballot initiative last November.
“The Court concludes that the Commissioner’s complete failure to act cannot be considered substantial compliance,” she wrote, ordering the governor to submit the necessary paperwork to the federal government by June 11.
It wasn’t immediately known whether LePage planned to appeal the decision.
PREDICTION: Yeah, he will. He's out of office in seven months, and I'm willing to bet he's gonna continue doing everything possible to drag this out until his replacement takes office in January.
Maine’s state legislature has voted five times in the past five years to expand Medicaid, and LePage vetoed the effort five times. Having reached an impasse, health care advocates turned to the ballot box, gathering signatures to get the measure on the 2017 ballot and successfully campaigning for its passage. Nearly 60 percent of voters cast a ballot in favor — making the state the first in the nation to expand Medicaid by popular vote.
Under Maine’s Constitution, the governor can’t veto a law passed by citizens’ initiative, so LePage chose instead to simply refuse to move forward with its implementation, citing concerns about its cost. The lawsuit was filed after LePage blew past the April deadline to submit a simple, two-page State Plan Amendment that allows the state to draw millions in federal funding for the Medicaid expansion.
The lead group challenging LePage in court was the non-profit Maine Equal Justice Partners, whose litigation director Jack Comart told TPM that they characterized the governor’s intransigence as a veto by another name.