In case you haven’t heard, Gov. Paul LePage doesn’t think Maine should expand Medicaid.

The governor has vetoed bills that would do just that five times. When voters passed it by referendum he refused to implement it. Taken to court and ordered by a judge to start moving, LePage has filed an appeal.

Gov. LePage just doesn’t want to do it, but he is running out of moves. The Maine Supreme Judicial Court should shoot down this appeal and stop this ridiculous game.

If the governor is confused about his role here, he should review the Maine Constitution, Article V, Section 12, “The Governor shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”

It doesn’t say he should write the laws, that’s the Legislature’s job. It doesn’t say he should interpret the laws, that’s for the courts. It doesn’t say he can decide which laws he wants to enforce, or that he can ignore laws he doesn’t like. The word “faithfully” doesn’t mean that he has to believe in it, but, according to Black’s Law Dictionary, it requires “a punctilious discharge of all the duties of the office, requiring competence, diligence, and attention, without any malfeasance or nonfeasance, aside from mere mistakes.”

In other words, it means he has to do it. The state’s appeal of Justice Michaela Murphy’s ruling on the case is short on logic and long on “nonfeasance.” According to the DHHS commissioner Ricker Hamilton, the state cannot be expected to begin work on a plan to cover 80,000 low-income people with mostly federal money because Maine does not have the funds to cover its share, specifically appropriated for the program, ready and waiting. That claim is laughable because, as Murphy noted, it wouldn’t cost anything to file a plan with the federal government, in compliance with the law. And everyone knows that the budget surplus from one month this year would be more than enough to fund the state’s share of the program.

The state’s case is even more risible when you consider why no appropriation has passed before the Legislature adjourned. LePage allies in the House of Representatives used the minority party’s leverage to shut down business for the year, while much important work was left undone. They are using intransigence to achieve what they couldn’t do through the democratic process.

The court should say, enough.

If Maine had expanded Medicaid in 2014, about $2.5 billion in federal funds would by now have flowed to health care providers, including struggling rural hospitals. The state share of the program would have been offset by savings in other areas and increased income tax revenues from the health care jobs the program would support.

But the argument over whether this is a good idea is beside the point. Maine’s Medicaid expansion is the law and the governor has taken an oath to faithfully execute it.

He doesn’t have to like it, but he can’t keep saying no.

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