Maine Governor Plans to Block Medicaid Expansion Despite Statewide Vote

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Governor Paul LePage. Photo: Derek Davis/Press Herald via Getty Images

On Tuesday, voters in Maine approved a ballot measure to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, a move opposed by Governor Paul LePage, who has, five times, vetoed legislation to cover 70,000 Mainers living at 138 percent of the poverty level.

On Wednesday, LePage essentially said he didn’t care about the will of the people. The Republican, who has previously praised President Trump’s authoritarian streak, put out a statement following the measure’s overwhelming approval that said he would not implement the expansion until certain conditions are met.

“My administration will not implement Medicaid expansion until it has been fully funded by the Legislature at the levels DHHS 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,” LePage said.

Leaders of the campaign for the initiative immediately said LePage was acting beyond the scope of his power. “The governor cannot ignore the law or the Constitution of Maine,” spokesman David Farmer told the Press Herald. “Simply put, the governor does not have veto power of citizen’s initiatives and he cannot ignore the law.”

What he can do though is drag his feet and muck up the process to prevent the expansion from taking place. But even that can’t go on forever. The term-limited governor will be out of office in about 14 months.

Maine Gov to Block Medicaid Expansion Despite Statewide Vote