Maine Senate gives initial approval for Medicaid Expansion funding

Posted: June 20, 2018 | Senator Breen, Senator Jackson

AUGUSTA — On Wednesday, the Maine Senate voted 23-9 in favor of a bill to provide funding for both the administrative and claims cost of Medicaid expansion, which was passed by the voters in a 2017 referendum.

As amended, LD 837, “An Act To Provide Supplemental Appropriations and Allocations for the Operations of State Government,” includes $3.5 million for administrative costs and $31 million to implement the program.

“Medicaid expansion is the law. Maine people spoke loud and clear when they voted last year and the courts reaffirmed that vote last week,” said Sen. Cathy Breen of Falmouth, who serves as ranking Democratic Senator on the Legislature’s Appropriation and Financial Affairs Committee. “I am hopeful now we can begin to implement Medicaid expansion without further delay.”

The new law will result in health care coverage for 70,000 Maine people, who are currently living without health insurance. Since the law’s passage in November, the LePage administration has consistently missed deadlines and failed to take the necessary steps to implement the law.

Earlier this month, the Maine Superior Court ruled that Medicaid expansion is the law of the land and the governor must file a state plan immediately. In accordance with the law, eligible Mainers should be able to enroll in the program July 2.

“Medicaid expansion is a huge health care win for our state. It will strengthen our rural hospitals, help combat the opioid epidemic, stabilize the cost of health care for insured Mainers and make sure eligible folks can finally get health insurance,” said Senate Democratic Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash. “The LePage administration needs to quit dragging their feet just because they don’t like how the people voted – it’s just cruel. This bill is a good faith effort to work with the governor and implement this new law.”

LD 837 faces enactment votes in both the House and the Senate. Pending enact, the bill will go to the governor’s desk where he has 10 days to sign the bill into law, veto the bill or let it become law without his signature. LD 837 passed the House in an initial vote of 78-58.