Medicaid expansion lawsuit brought before Idaho Supreme Court

By Lyndsie Kiebert
Reader Staff

The Idaho Supreme Court heard arguments for and against the implementation of Medicaid expansion in the state Tuesday as part of a lawsuit filed by the Idaho Freedom Foundation.

Volunteers for Reclaim Idaho gather to celebrate the passing of Proposition 2 last fall. Courtesy photo.

The lawsuit claims implementation of Medicaid expansion is unconstitutional, giving too much power the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare and the federal government, the Idaho Statesman reports. 

Medicaid expansion made it onto the November ballot as a citizen’s initiative and passed with about 60 percent of the vote, making it Idaho law. 

Though Gov. Brad Little said he will honor the voters’ wishes, it is yet to be seen whether the Idaho legislature will find space for the expansion in the state budget.

The Statesman reports that the Foundation’s argument centers around a fear that the federal government could one day change how much it subsidizes Medicaid expansion, and Idaho would be left to foot the entire bill. As it stands, the federal government is expected to cover 90 percent of the cost if Idaho’s expansion goes into effect in 2020.

The Idaho Attorney General’s Office said the Foundation’s lawsuit is “frivolous, unreasonable and without foundation on several levels,” according to the Statesman. The Idaho Press-Tribune noted skepticism from Supreme Court justices during statements from both the Idaho Freedom Foundation and the AG’s office Tuesday.

“Idahoans overwhelmingly voted to expand Medicaid in this state because they understand the fiscal and human impact it will have on their family, friends and neighbors — not to mention the state,” said Reclaim Idaho co-founder and well-known supporter of Medicaid expansion, Luke Mayville, in a statement Tuesday. “The legislature has already taken the first steps toward funding the program. There’s no reason they shouldn’t move forward and fulfill the will of the people.”

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