AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - A new lawsuit, in federal court, looks to stop the Medicaid cuts that are set to go into effect on October 1st. Up to 27,000 Mainers may be affected by the cuts to Medicaid that the legislature passed in May, if the federal government approves them.
The state says the federal government should have approved the cuts by now. The feds say they need more time to determine whether the cuts are legal. And these thousands of Mainers are left wondering whether they'll have health care coverage in a month.
Melissa Dunn says if it weren't for MaineCare -- Maine's Medicaid program -- she might not be out volunteering or working today.
A victim of multiple sexual assaults, Dunn suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder... Some days, she says, she couldn't leave the house.
Now, Dunn says, she's not sure whether she's one of the people affected by Maine's proposed MaineCare cuts. She's received no notice about her coverage -- and she's worried. Both for herself, and for her loved ones who have MaineCare, too.
DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew says she knows this is a confusing time for MaineCare recipients. Her office has chosen not to send notices to the people who may be affected, though, because they don't want to confuse people further. Depending on how the court and the federal government acts, the cuts could happen October 1st, they could be delayed, or they could be denied.
Mayhew says if people think they may effected by the changes, to call their local DHHS office.
And groups that work with low income Mainers agree that right now there is no good way to prepare people for cuts that may or may not happen.
Maine Equal Justice Partners is considering legal action against the cuts. Its advocates are not telling clients to look for other options just yet.
So for now, Dunn, like thousands of other Mainers, is waiting to see what happens. Until the courts, or the feds, act -- there's nothing else to do.
Mayhew says her office is looking at all the possible scenarios, and is preparing to work with the legislature regardless of whether the state prevails in court.