On Monday, the United States Supreme Court rejected a request by the LePage administration to review a lower court’s ruling that has allowed thousands of young adults to remain on Medicaid.
As a result, the LePage administration must adhere to the lower court’s ruling, which said that Maine could not remove 19 and 20 year olds from the Medicaid program until 2019.
Approximately 6,500 individuals have been able to stay in the Medicaid program because of this ruling, which was handed down this past November by the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals.
“Although I am deeply disappointed by the Supreme Court’s decision, we will continue to work tirelessly to reform Maine’s Medicaid program to prioritize our elderly and severely disabled neighbors instead of able-bodied young adults,” said Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew.
Reforming welfare and lessening the dependence on social services has been a central theme of LePage’s two terms as Governor. This goal has often pitted him against Maine Democrats, and even other members of the state government.
Democratic attorney general, Janet Mills, who was staunchly opposed to appealing to the Supreme Court, refused to try the case herself and forced LePage to hire outside legal counsel.
“The unanimous decision by the three-judge panel of the 1st Circuit was correct and there was no reason for the US Supreme Court to take this case,” said Mills in a statement on Monday.
“I respect the earnestness with which the Governor sought to advance his argument, but I have felt all along that it lacked legal merit.”
The LePage administration has estimated that the annual cost of providing Medicaid coverage to 19 and 20 year olds is approximately $10.6 million, with $6.6 million paid by the federal government, and the remaining $4 million paid by the Maine state government.