Court rejects Maine suit on waiver request action
A federal appeals court rejected Maine’s lawsuit that demanded swift action from the federal government on the state’s Aug. 1 request to eliminate Medicaid coverage for more than 20,000 residents. The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston declared the lawsuit premature because the CMS had 90 days—until Nov. 1—by statute to consider Maine’s waiver request. The ruling came a little more than a week after the state of Maine sought an injunction. The Republican-controlled Legislature voted to eliminate coverage for parents with incomes from 100% to 133% of the federal poverty level, along with 19- and 20-year-olds and seniors and disabled people in the Medicare Savings Program. The state originally asked for an expedited ruling by Sept. 1, a month before the cuts were to go into effect. When that didn’t happen, the state filed a lawsuit three days later with the 1st U.S. Circuit Court seeking an injunction that would require the federal government to approve the waiver request or to pay the cost of Medicaid benefits above what the Maine Legislature has stipulated. Republican Maine Gov. Paul LePage contends that Medicaid, which serves 361,000 Maine residents, has grown faster than the state’s ability to fund it. He said the legislative cuts are legal because the U.S. Supreme Court decision that upheld President Barack Obama’s federal healthcare overhaul limited congressional power to expand Medicaid. Federal law prevents states from reducing Medicaid coverage before 2014, a provision that remains in effect after the Supreme Court ruling.