Last night, Maine residents voted overwhelmingly to expand the state’s Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act, approving a ballot measure on the issue by a whopping 18-point margin. But Governor Paul LePage (R) refuses to implement the law.
In a statement Wednesday, The ogre-ish second-term Republican announced that his administration will not expand Medicaid until the state finds a way to pay for it, a day after voters approved a ballot measure to broaden the program.
“Credit agencies are predicting that this fiscally irresponsible Medicaid expansion will be ruinous to Maine’s budget,” LePage said in a statement, according to The Hill.
“Therefore, my administration will not implement Medicaid expansion until it has been fully funded by the Legislature at the levels [the Department of Health and Human Services] has calculated, and I will not support increasing taxes on Maine families, raiding the rainy day fund or reducing services to our elderly or disabled.”
Maine voters on Tuesday approved a ballot measure calling for the state to expand Medicaid under ObamaCare, the first state to do so through a referendum.
Maine’s House Speaker Sara Gideon (D) said in a statement that the legislature would implement the Medicaid expansion measure, and will fight the governor if he tries to intervene.
“The legislature will move swiftly to fund Medicaid expansion as required by law. The governor and DHHS commissioner will implement its requirements as well, as they are obligated to do,” Gideon said.
“Any attempts to illegally delay or subvert this law will not be tolerated and will be fought with every recourse at our disposal. Mainers demanded affordable access to healthcare yesterday, and that is exactly what we intend to deliver,” she added.
Experts questioned LePage’s ability to unilaterally block the initiative from taking effect.
Under Maine’s constitution, a voter-approved initiative that requires the state to spend money won’t become operable until 45 days after the legislature next convenes. That won’t happen until Jan. 3, 2018.
After that, the LePage administration has 90 days to submit the required paperwork to the federal government to implement the expansion.
“The governor cannot ignore the law or the Constitution of Maine. The Constitution is clear,” said David Farmer, spokesman for the campaign that supported the ballot question.
“Simply put, the governor does not have veto power over citizen’s initiatives and he cannot ignore the law. Medicaid expansion will be the law and the governor cannot unilaterally stop that from happening.”