Maine governor ignores voters' ballots and will not expand Medicaid

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Six months after Maine voters opted to expand the state Medicaid program through a ballot initiative,  Gov. Paul LePage (R) is refusing to enact more coverage.

LePage, a tea party Republican who's derided Medicaid expansion as a “boondoggle,” had previously vetoed any bills to opt in to Obama-era expansion programs, Politico reports.

But last November, voters seemed to override his reluctance when nearly 60% of them approved the nation's first expansion-related ballot initiative.

That would have made Maine the 32nd state to embrace Medicaid expansion,  and other states soon followed the ballot initiative route. Organizers in Utah, Idaho and Nebraska are currently headed toward November votes.

But Maine's LePage continues to block expansion, which would provide coverage for 80,000 low-income individuals. He insists state lawmakers, about to end their session, must meet his funding conditions or they could bankrupt the state.

Now Maine's ballot-initiative pioneers are bracing for a legal showdown.

“The law is clear,” Robyn Merrill of Maine Equal Justice Partners told Politico. “People will have a right [to coverage] and we will represent them in court.”