Judge Tells Maine Gov. Paul LePage To Expand Medicaid Or GTFO

And he does, every time he has a microphone in front of him.

Maine Gov. Paul LePage really, really, really hates poor people, and recognizes the very clear logic that if only poor people would stop being poor, they wouldn't need any government assistance. Which obviously means that eliminating government assistance will eliminate poverty, because duh, it just will. LePage, who in addition to being governor is also a complete asshole, relied on that flawless logic for any number of cuts to social programs, and to veto Medicaid expansion bills five times, because while the state legislature could pass the bills again and again, it didn't have the votes to override them. All that obstruction should have come to an end last fall when voters approved a referendum to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, but LePage insisted he didn't have to follow the law because the legislature hadn't passed a bill to cover the state's 10 percent portion of the cost of expansion (which he also greatly exaggerated).

Some of the 70,000 Mainers affected by the delays, and a coalition of groups that had pushed the referendum, sued the state in April to force LePage to actually implement the law. Monday, the state judge in the case ruled that hell yes, Maine passed a law, and the governor has to follow the damn law and send the federal government a plan to expand Medicaid (which goes by the name "MaineCare" in Maine. Some calls it a sling blade, too, mmm-hmmm). So Hooray! Except for the fact that LePage will now almost certainly appeal or ask the judge how many divisions he has, because as we believe we mentioned, he is a dick.

The decision by Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy rejected the Maine Department of Health and Human Services' arguments that the department couldn't submit a plan for Medicaid expansion to the feds, since the Legislature hadn't yet voted to fund the expansion. Citing Maine law, Judge Murphy noted that the ballot initiative was quite clear about the agency's obligation to get ready to implement the law, and that submitting that document -- a two-page form -- doesn't require any allocation of funds at all. Murphy explained DHHS Commissioner Ricker Hamilton must submit the "state plan amendment" (SPA) to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in order to comply with the law regardless:

Translation: Get your asses in gear and submit that notice to the Feds by June 11. Submitting the SPA will start the federal funding of Medicaid benefits, which will cover 90 percent of the expanded coverage regardless of whether the state legislature has funded the services to LePage's satisfaction. Once people are actually signing up for benefits they're entitled to, the Lege will have a powerful incentive to meet the state's share.

A spokesperson for one of the groups that sued explained the decision in itty bitty words LePage may be able to understand:

“The governor cannot ignore the law,” Robyn Merrill, executive director of Maine Equal Justice Partners, said in a prepared statement. “Maine voters did not make a request at the ballot, they passed a law, and laws are not optional. Today’s ruling is good for more than 70,000 Mainers who the law says can sign up for health care on July 2.”

Unfortunately, even if LePage's expected appeals come to nothing, the Bangor Daily News points out there's yet another matter he could drag his feet on to delay letting those awful poor people from seeing doctors:

Democrats have proposed a $10.4 million bill to fund more than 100 state jobs related to expansion and Murphy’s ruling did not weigh in on funding of the law. That could be the new fight over expansion if the ruling stands.

Good lord, government workers to actually administer the law the people voted for? What sort of mob-rule madness is that?

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[Portland Press Herald / Bangor Daily News]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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