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Maine Clashes with Feds Over Medicaid

by Benjamin Domenech on August 1, 2012

This may very well end up being litigated:

The LePage administration Wednesday laid out what it says is a clear-cut legal argument for allowing Maine to make cuts to its Medicaid program despite a provision in the Obama administration’s health care reform law that prohibits states from scaling back existing Medicaid services.

Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday filed paperwork with the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services requesting approval for Medicaid cuts that Republican lawmakers approved this spring and Gov. Paul LePage signed into law as part of a supplemental budget package.

“We fundamentally believe this is a very straightforward request that is absolutely within the state’s prerogative to make,” Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew told reporters at a news conference.

Meanwhile, Democrats repeated Wednesday that they thought the cuts violated federal law, and a Health and Human Services official from former President George W. Bush’s administration said he thought it’s unlikely the Obama administration will allow Maine to make its desired cuts.

The LePage administration is requesting what is known as an amendment to its Medicaid State Plan that makes about $20 million in Medicaid cuts to balance the state budget. The cuts, planned for Oct. 1, would eliminate coverage for 19- and 20-year-olds, tighten income eligibility requirements for low-income parents and scale back Medicaid access for elderly residents who also qualify for Medicare benefits.

This would have a significant impact on other states should Maine prove successful. More information is here.

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