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Maine Challenges Health Care Law’s Medicaid Provisions

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by Publius
Posted September 07, 2012, 12:34 PM

The Kennebec Journal reports:

Attorney General William Schneider said Tuesday that his office has petitioned the U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals to force the federal government to approve Maine's application to eliminate health care benefits for about 33,000 people, or begin paying Maine's share of the coverage.

The petition follows last week's announcement that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services would not expedite its decision on the state's application. The LePage administration asked the agency in August to rule on the application by Sept. 1.

Federal law allows 90 days to ratify or deny changes to a state's Medicaid plan. The LePage administration says an expedited decision is necessary because Maine has balanced its budget based on the $20 million in anticipated savings from the health care cuts.

The state's brief is available here.

Jonathan Adler discusses this lawsuit today on the Volokh Conspiracy, focusing on the portion of the suit challenging the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's "maintenance of effort" provision, which requires states to maintain the same Medicaid eligibility as they had in effect upon the health care law's enactment, or lose all Medicaid funding.

He views the suit as a follow-up to the NFIB v. Sebelius case decided earlier this year:

Maine's argument is that the MOE provision is part of the Medicaid expansion, and was therefore invalidated by the Court's holding in NFIB. Among other things, Maine notes that the MOE rules were originally adopted in return for receipt of stimulus funding in 2008. That choice - accepting a temporary MOE requirement in exchange for stimulus money - was "voluntary." The choice between accepting a continuation of the MOE rules and losing all Medicaid funding is not.

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