Gov. Paul LePage on Monday vetoed a bill funding Medicaid expansion, ending any notion that he plans to faithfully execute the law, as prescribed in the state constitution. With the matter likely to be settled in court, the governor just destroyed his defense.

The Supreme Judicial Court later this month will hear the governor’s appeal of a Superior Court ruling forcing his administration to file a state plan amendment, the first step in accepting new applicants under Medicaid expansion.

Enrollment for the new applicants began Monday, but the Department of Health and Human Services, which runs the state Medicaid program, is not ready, as the governor at each step has undermined the expansion law. The veto of the funding bill is just the clearest sign yet that LePage has no intention of following the law, which passed at the polls last November with nearly 60 percent of the vote.

The governor, of course, vetoed Medicaid expansion bills five times after they passed the Legislature, and those vetoes were sustained with the help of House Republicans.

After voters approved expansion last year, LePage said he would implement the law as soon as new positions were funded within DHHS to handle the work, even though money was already available to cover the first year of expansion.

While House Republicans used their leverage to slow down a funding bill, the governor did — nothing. His administration missed the law’s first deadline in April, saying they could not file the simple amendment plan without funding, though it wouldn’t have cost the state anything to do so.

The blown deadline brought a lawsuit from advocates on behalf of potential Medicaid recipients, and a Superior Court judge subsequently ruled that the administration must file the plan. LePage has appealed, setting up arguments in front of Maine’s top court on July 18.

With that court date set, the governor used his June 21 radio address to say that he would implement the law if the Legislature would only fund it.

However, a week later, with the funding bill in hand, he announced the veto, which will likely be sustained.

LePage said the bill, which draws from surplus and tobacco fund money, is fiscally irresponsible, though it uses viable sources, and he has offered no alternatives.

The governor faulted lawmakers for not finding an ongoing source of funding that considered other spending priorities; he could have done just that earlier this year, but opted against submitting a supplemental budget. In any case, ongoing funding will be decided by the next Legislature, just as each Legislature sets its own budget every other year.

He also criticized lawmakers for taking so long to pass a bill, when it was his allies in the House who were at fault.

LePage can keep saying that he wants to follow the law and expand Medicaid as long as the conditions are correct, but over and over again his actions have said the opposite. With the veto of the funding bill, the governor said clearly that he will not execute the law under any circumstance. We hope the Supreme Judicial Court was listening.

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