Maine Voted to Expand Medicaid. Judge Orders the State to Get Moving.

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The Affordable Care Act gave states the option to allow citizens with income up to 138 percent of the poverty level — $16,642 for an individual, $24,600 for a family of four — to qualify for Medicaid, which is paid for by states and the federal government.

The law required the federal government to pick up the cost of new enrollees under Medicaid expansion for the first three years; it will continue to pay at least 90 percent. States generally cover a much larger portion of the expenses for the rest of their Medicaid populations.

Mr. LePage has estimated a much higher cost to the state for expanding Medicaid (as much as $100 million a year) than the state’s nonpartisan Office of Program and Fiscal Review did (about $54 million). He has vowed not to allow the expansion to proceed unless the legislature finds a way to pay for it at his cost estimate, and without raising taxes or relying on state surpluses.

“The governor cannot ignore the law,” said Robyn Merrill, executive director of Maine Equal Justice Partners, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit and the group that led the ballot initiative campaign. “Maine voters did not make a request at the ballot, they passed a law, and laws are not optional. 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.”

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