In this May 5, 2018, file photo Gov. Paul LePage speaks at the Republican Convention in Augusta, Maine. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty | AP

AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Paul LePage’s administration has spent more than $200,000 in legal expenses in the court fight with advocates over Medicaid expansion that may last until the end of the governor’s tenure in early January, according to records reviewed by CBS 13.

Compliance with the expansion law would provide health care coverage to as many as 80,000 low-income Mainers, but lawyers for the Republican governor have argued that moving forward without approval from the federal government could prompt a “fiscal crisis” for the state.

Attorney General Janet Mills, a Democrat who won the race to replace LePage earlier this month, has said she will take steps to implement Medicaid expansion as soon as she takes office Jan. 2, though it is still not clear when coverage would take effect.

[What’s next for Medicaid expansion as Maine’s transition of power looms]

Jack Comart, a lawyer for Maine Equal Justice Partners, the progressive group leading the lawsuit against the LePage administration, said given Mills’ election, it is “a waste of taxpayer money to continue this litigation,” and it is “sad” that LePage is “spending his remaining time actively denying health care to people with serious medical conditions.”

Records reviewed by CBS 13 show that since July 2018, the state has spent $228,316 on legal services with Consovoy McCarthy Park, the Boston law firm handling the Medicaid expansion litigation that has been active in Maine’s court system since late April.

Last week, Maine Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy ruled that DHHS must take immediate steps to expand Medicaid. On Tuesday, the administration asked for a delay of that ruling, citing a planned appeal to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. That could take the case into Mills’ term.

[A judge ordered LePage to expand Medicaid. He plans to keep fighting it.]

LePage spokeswoman Julie Rabinowitz did not immediately respond to questions on Wednesday about the money spent on litigation.

“We cannot control future administrations, but this administration believes strongly as a matter of principle in the constitutional arguments we are making. We will pursue this case to the end,” Rabinowitz said on Tuesday following the most recent court filing.

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