LePage: Medicaid Fight May Go to Supreme Court

Gov. Paul LePage planned to eliminate coverage for about 6,000 19- and 20-year-old residents

Maine Gov. Paul LePage he expects that the state's fight with the federal government over whether it can remove thousands of low-income young adults from the state's welfare rolls will end up in the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Republican governor told the Maine Public Broadcasting Network Tuesday that he hopes the Supreme Court will hear the case. He says the state is now "just going through the process."

The 1st Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that the federal government was correct in rejecting LePage's plan to eliminate Medicaid coverage for 6,000 19-and-20-year-olds.

The ruling drew swift criticism from Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew, who said the state's "welfare funds should be prioritized toward the elderly, disabled and truly needy; not the job-ready young adults."

"By moving the goalposts and forcing Maine taxpayers to pay for more welfare, the federal government is using its heavy hand to push its agenda of putting as many people as possible on a broken Medicaid system," she said. "Washington has the luxury of paying for its programs with deficits and debt; in Maine, we must set priorities and balance our budget."

The proposed cuts were part of a larger Medicaid overhaul LePage sought in 2012, saying the state offers more extensive benefits than others do and that the program's ballooning costs were devastating Maine's budget.

The administration argued that the cuts were legal because the Supreme Court decision that upheld President Barack Obama's federal health care overhaul limited congressional power to expand Medicaid, and it appealed the decision after the federal government rejected the proposal last year.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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