Governor Mills Signs Executive Order Directing DHHS to Move Forward Medicaid Expansion

Governor also sends letter to federal Department of Health and Human Services encouraging approval of the State Plan Amendment

Governor Mills signing Executive Order 1
Governor Mills signing Executive Order 1

Augusta, MAINE – Governor Janet Mills announced today that she has signed Executive Order Number 1, directing the Maine Department of Health and Human Services to swiftly and efficiently begin implementation of Medicaid expansion as passed by Maine voters.

Governor Mills also announced that she is sending a letter today to the Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar and Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Seema Verma requesting the formal approval of the State Plan Amendments filed by the previous administration and amended today.

“More than a year ago, the people of Maine voted to expand Medicaid. Today, my Administration is taking the long-awaited steps to fulfill their will,” said Governor Mills. “I am directing my Administration to begin implementing Medicaid expansion as quickly and as efficiently as possible so that we can help more Maine people access the health care they need. Expanding health care and lowering the cost for Maine people and small businesses is a top priority of my administration, and I look forward to working with the Legislature to achieve that goal.”

“Governor Mills and I share a commitment to ensuring that the Department of Health and Human Services achieves its core mission to safeguard the health and well-being of Maine children and families. The Executive Order is a critical first step in achieving that mission,” said Jeanne Lambrew, who is being nominated by Governor Mills as Commissioner of DHHS. “Full implementation of Medicaid expansion will take time and the collective cooperation of our health system, but with Governor Mills’ leadership, access to affordable health care coverage for Mainers is now on the horizon.”

The Executive Order directs the Department of Health and Human Services to make changes to process the applications of Mainers seeking health care coverage under Medicaid expansion, including amending the filings of the previous administration to reflect the accurate date of implementation and to seek the earliest possible approvals as allowed under the expansion act. Under the Order, the Department will adopt all rules as established in the Expansion Act before the February 1, 2019 deadline ordered by the Superior Court.

The Executive Order also directs the Department to partner with health care providers, organizations, patients, patient and consumer representatives and other stakeholders to create and implement a communications and outreach strategy to help enroll eligible Mainers, with a primary goal of speeding up application processing time and eligibility determinations to provide coverage as quickly as possible. The Order also directs the Department to work with the state Legislature to identify sustainable sources of funding for Medicaid Expansion to ensure eligible Mainers receive health care coverage under the Expansion Act in both the short- and long-term.

In her letter to Secretary Azar and Administrator Verma, Governor Mills underscored the people of Maine’s demonstrated support for Medicaid expansion and the ongoing lack of affordable health care coverage caused by the previous administration’s refusal to honor the will of Maine voters.

The letter also describes three amendments submitted by the Department to the State Plan Amendments filed by the previous administration on September 4, 2018 and December 21, 2018 (18-006, 18-007, and 18-0031). The amendments change the effective dates of the State Plan Amendments to July 2, 2018 in compliance with Maine State Law as established by the 2017 ballot initiative. In the letter, Governor Mills also reiterated her commitment to working with the Legislature to identify sustainable, ongoing sources of funding for expansion.

Contact: Scott Ogden and Lindsay Crete

Executive Order 1: An Order to Require the Expeditious Implementation of the MaineCare Expansion (PDF)