Documents show that Republican Gov. Paul LePage's administration spent nearly $53,000 on private lawyers last year in its failed attempt to remove about 6,000 young adults from Maine's Medicaid program.
The governor sought outside counsel in his case against the federal government after Democratic state Attorney General Janet Mills declined to represent the administration. She said the case had "little legal merit."
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A federal appeals court in November denied LePage's request to eliminate coverage for 19-and-20-year-olds.
Maine's Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew defended the expense, saying the administration believes the funds used to cover that population should help the elderly and disabled. LePage's spokeswoman didn't return a request for comment.
The Associated Press obtained records of the legal payments through a Freedom of Access Act request.