PORTLAND (NEWS CENTER Maine) -- Legal arguments over the future of voter-approved Medicaid expansion was in front of a Superior Court judge in Portland Wednesday. Justice Michaela Murphy is tasked with determining whether Governor LePage’s Administration has broken the law by stalling the expansion. A lawsuit was filed in April.
A day after the 2018 elections, Governor-elect Janet Mills and the Assistant Attorney General John Bolton, acting as an amicus lawyer and advisor, listened to Medicaid expansion oral arguments
One year ago, nearly 60% of Maine voters made their voices heard on Medicaid, and now the Maine Equal Justice Partners is trying to force the Governor to implement the law.
“We think the law is clear," said James Kilbreth, attorney at law representing the Maine Equal Justice Partners. "The executive branch has to implement the law. It has to execute it faithfully. The law doesn’t have the ability to say 'Oh, never mind, I don’t like this law,' which is what’s going on here."
Lawyers representing Lepage and DHHS say funding for the law should not be decided by a court.
"Our position is that this is a non-justiciable issue and the court should not be making any findings in respect to the sufficiency of any appropriations," said Patrick Strawbridge, an attorney representing the LePage Administration. "It should be left to the legislature and the executive to work this out. That is our actual frontline request for relief.”
Robyn Merrill, the Executive Director of the Maine Equal Justice Partners, says regardless of the support from the future governor, they are still fighting for a win in court.
"We want to hold this administration accountable," said Merrill. "We want this implemented in 2018. We don’t want to wait until 2019. People were eligible for coverage as of July 2. People are waiting and over 4,500 people have applied.”
Justice Michaela Murphy will rule on whether Medicaid Expansion in Maine has the proper appropriations, and if so, when it will be implemented. Judge Murphy expects to make a decision expected 'soon.'