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The Latest: Gov. Mills announces move to expand Medicaid

January 3, 2019

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — The Latest on Maine Gov. Janet Mills’ first day in office (all times local):

3:20 p.m.

Democratic Maine Gov. Janet Mills is sticking to her campaign promise to expand Medicaid.

Mills announced on her first full day in office that she’s seeking “expedited” approval of benefits for thousands retroactive to July 2.

She told reporters at her first news conference Thursday that the move will help eligible Mainers “to obtain the benefits that they are due.”

Mills said her executive order directs Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services to amend that Medicaid expansion plan and adopt regulations to allow Mainers to enroll. The order also directs the department to work with lawmakers to sustainably fund Maine’s share of Medicaid expansion.

Former Republican Gov. Paul LePage filed a court-ordered plan to expand Medicaid, but also wrote federal regulators, urging them to reject it.

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2:50 p.m.

Democratic Maine Gov. Janet Mills has issued an executive order urging her administration to swiftly roll out Medicaid expansion demanded by voters.

Mills had vowed to expand Medicaid on her first day.

She’s sending federal regulators a letter encouraging them to approve Maine’s expansion plan.

Former Republican Gov. Paul LePage filed a court-ordered plan to expand Medicaid, but also wrote federal regulators, urging them to reject it.

Mills said her first executive order directs Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services to amend that Medicaid expansion plan and adopt regulations to allow Mainers to enroll. The order also directs the department to work with lawmakers to sustainably fund Maine’s share of Medicaid expansion.

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1:45 p.m.

Democratic Maine Gov. Janet Mills, who vowed to expand Medicaid on her first day, plans to discuss the topic at her first news conference as governor.

Mills’ spokesman Thursday said the governor is set to discuss plans to roll out Medicaid expansion demanded by voters in 2017.

Former Republican Gov. Paul LePage blocked expansion over fiscal concerns. He filed a court-ordered plan to expand Medicaid, but also wrote federal regulators, urging them to reject it.

A judge ordered Maine to roll-out Medicaid expansion to at least 70,000 low-income residents by February. The LePage administration appealed. Mills’ spokesman has said such efforts will soon be “moot.”

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10:45 a.m.

Maine lawmakers are proposing bills to address sea level rise, protect pre-existing conditions and provide abortion coverage for Medicaid recipients as Democrats take over the governor’s mansion and state Senate.

Gov. Janet Mills, who was sworn in Wednesday, leads the state alongside Democrats who now control Maine’s Senate 21-14 and House 89-58. She’s vowed to fight back against the “anti-choice agenda” and submitted a failed bill last year to allow physician assistants or advanced practice nurses to perform abortions.

Nine Democrats back legislation to require Maine to fund abortion services not approved under Medicaid. Another Democrat proposes an infrastructure bond to address rising sea levels.

Mills backs a bill to enshrine certain parts of President Obama’s federal health law into Maine law. That includes coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions.

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