Maine begins Medicaid expansion, joins all other ERC members in expansion
On January 3, 2018, Maine Governor Janet Mills signed an executive order to expand Medicaid, ending her predecessor Paul LePage’s long delay of the 2017 voter referendum in support of expanding the health program.
Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and a subsequent Supreme Court decision, states may extend Medicaid eligibility to all adults under age 65 with incomes below 138 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL), which is $20,780 for a family of three.
The Maine Department of Health and Human Services reported that more than 500 people have enrolled within a week of the executive order going into effect and that the department was receiving 2,000 calls a day about Medicaid enrollment. According to a 2017 report, there are about 80,000 “individuals in Maine estimated to benefit under the new eligibility criteria.”
With Maine’s implementation, all CSG/ERC member states have expanded Medicaid. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, about a quarter of the Medicaid population for most ERC states is a result of expanding Medicaid, but some states such as Massachusetts and Vermont already had high eligibility thresholds for Medicaid prior to the ACA passage.
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Additionally with Virginia also expanding, Medicaid expansion has now occurred throughout the Mid-Atlantic and New England states. Only fourteen states—generally in the south—have not expanded Medicaid.
While many believe Medicaid expansion provides important economic and health benefits, others are concerned about the fiscal impact to their budgets, particularly because the ACA’s legality is still being litigated. We will continue to monitor states’ Medicaid policies as they look for innovative ways for increasing coverage, particularly to vulnerable populations, while keeping costs in check.