Court rejects Maine suit on waiver re­quest ac­tion

Modern Healthcare - - LATE NEWS -

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.

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