AUGUSTA, Maine — Governor Janet Mills says Maine is moving ahead as quickly as possible with the expansion of the Medicaid program. Mills made that comment Thursday morning at a meeting in Augusta.

Last week, in her first official act as Governor, Mills ordered the Department of Health and Human Services to begin implementing the expansion, which had been delayed more than a year by battles over funding between Governor LePage and the Legislature.  Thousands of people around the state have been waiting for the health coverage for adults to begin, and implementing expansion was a crucial part of Mills’ campaign.

The Governor was greeted with applause as she entered the meeting between DHHS and health care providers, social service agencies and other groups that deal with Medicaid.  

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The stakeholders’ meeting was part of the executive order issued last week. 

Mills told the group the state is moving as aggressively as it can to secure all the federal approvals and get the program running. She said they already see more applications for Medicaid coverage.

“ Public awareness is expanding, with more Mainers visiting DHHS office statewide,” Mills said. “We have put out the welcome home mat at those offices.“

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The Mills' administration wants full transparency through this process. To that end, acting DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew launched a blog Thursday updating Mainers on the progress of the program.  

"On January 3rd the Department of Health and Human Services submitted changes and additional information to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to secure approval of the expansion retroactive to July 2, 2018," said Lambrew. "Governor Mills then sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Azar and CMS Administrator Verma requesting expedited review. DHHS is in almost daily communication with CMS to ensure that they have the information they need to process these changes." 

Mills told the group Thursday that more than six thousand people had applied since last July. The LePage administration rejected those applicants, but Mills says DHHS is working on a plan to get those people approved. The state is waiting for the final go-ahead from the federal government but is already taking those new applications.