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Not So Fast: Maine's Request for 'Swift Action' is Moot

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By Robyn Hagan Cain on September 14, 2012 12:54 PM

Maine wants to eliminate Medicaid coverage for thousands of residents, but it has a small problem: It needs the federal government's approval for the plan.

So Maine took to the federal courts to demand "swift action" from the feds on its Medicaid waiver request, The Associated Press reports.

Last week, Maine Attorney General William Schneider asked the First Circuit Court of Appeals to review the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' failure to act by Sept. 1 on Maine's request for an amendment to its Medicaid state plan, reports the Bangor Daily News. The proposal would cut 36,000 people from Medicaid by eliminating coverage for 19- and 20-year-olds, tightening income eligibility requirements for low-income parents and scaling back Medicaid access for the elderly.

Schneider asked the court to order federal officials to rule on the state's request, and to pay Maine's state share of related Medicaid expenses for the time they take to consider the request.

The state wants to implement the changes by October 1.Thursday, the appellate court told the state that it will have to be patient.

The First Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that the lawsuit was premature because CMS has 90 days to consider the matter. That means the agency isn't required to render a decision until November 1.

While CMS is required to rule on the Medicaid waiver request by Nov. 1, it's unlikely that it will grant the request. The Affordable Care Act largely precludes states from making Medicaid cuts before the Act becomes effective in 2014, the Bangor Daily News reports.

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