Obamacare supporters Monday will sue Maine Gov. Paul LePage to force him to expand Medicaid, accusing the Republican of ignoring a ballot initiative that ordered the state to join the coverage program.
LePage has refused to expand Medicaid nearly six months after 59 percent of the state’s voters approved it in a first-of-its-kind ballot measure. LePage has insisted he won’t adopt Medicaid expansion unless state lawmakers meet his conditions for funding the program.
The lawsuit against LePage was expected after the Maine Legislature’s recent session ended without a funding agreement. A LePage spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
LePage, now in his last year in office, previously vetoed Medicaid expansion bills five times, prompting the state’s Obamacare supporters to organize the ballot initiative last year. Advocates are spearheading similar campaigns to get measures on the ballot this year in Idaho, Nebraska and Utah.
Under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government covered the entire cost of expanding Medicaid coverage through 2016. States last year became responsible for a fraction of program costs, and they will be on the hook for 10 percent within a few years.
Under the Maine ballot initiative, roughly 80,000 low-income adults are supposed to qualify for Medicaid benefits starting July 2. The LePage administration skipped an early April deadline to formally notify the federal government it would expand Medicaid.
If Maine expands, it would become the 32nd state to join the Obamacare program. It covers adults earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $16,800 for an individual and $34,600 for a family of four.