AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Maine has taken steps to expand Medicaid without a federal stamp of approval, but the woman nominated to lead the state's health agency said there's no question that Maine will receive federal funding.
Former White House official Jeanne Lambrew said Friday the federal government cannot deny Maine's paperwork to expand Medicaid retroactive to July 1. Lambrew, who helped roll out former President Barack Obama's health care law, said states have the option of expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
Nearly three out of five Mainers voted to expand Medicaid in 2017, but former Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican, blocked expansion for months over fiscal concerns. He filed a court-ordered Medicaid expansion plan but urged federal regulators to reject it.
Lambrew said Democratic Gov. Janet Mills' administration has filed amended paperwork with federal regulators. She said Maine would receive federal expansion funding retroactive to July 1, and that a preliminary review shows there is enough state funding for the expansion costs for most of the 2019 fiscal year.
Mills, who nominated Lambrew, said Thursday that 529 Mainers have qualified for coverage under expansion so far, and she will work with lawmakers to fund expansion fully for at least 70,000 Mainers without tax increases in the two-year budget. Mills points to an independent estimate suggesting Maine's expansion costs will total about $140 million from fiscal year 2019 through 2021.