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Idaho Freedom Foundation sues the state, argues Medicaid Expansion unconstitutional

Posted at 6:44 PM, Jan 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-29 20:44:23-05

BOISE — Today, the Idaho Freedom Foundation asked the Supreme Court to block Medicaid Expansion, as they declare it unconstitutional.

It's a proposition more than 60% of Idahoans voted in favor of in the midterm election.

It then raised controversy immediately after it's passing, and now the Idaho Freedom Foundation, in a lawsuit against the state, argues Medicaid Expansion is poorly worded, and that it gives too much power to the federal government.

“Proposition 2 has a major flaw and that major flaw is it gives congress the ability to make decisions about what Medicaid looks like in the future without our state legislature or Idaho voters being considered or even being involved,” said Wayne Hoffman, President of the Idaho Freedom Foundation.

The Idaho Freedom Foundation says Prop 2, passed by voters last November, wasn't worded well enough to keep federal funding in Idaho control.

Under Medicaid Expansion, the federal government would fund 90% of the costs to expand the program to cover individuals in the gap who make too much money for Medicaid, but too little for subsidies through the Affordable Care Act.

Wayne Hoffman argued Congress could at any time, change that healthcare law, leaving it up to the state to fund the other 90% of Medicaid Expansion, which he argued could mean cuts to other programs.

"That includes public schools, it includes infrastructure, it includes the prison system, police system, park system. There are a lot of different programs that could be affected if the Medicaid match is changed," said Hoffman.

The state, on the other hand, argued the lawsuit is putting the cart before the horse. They said constitutional challenges like this arise more often than we realize.

"Part of the flaw of this case is that the petitioner is seeking to arrest the implementation of a statute by suing someone that has nothing to do with the statute," said Brian Kane, Deputy Attorney General.

It takes the power of the people to pass an initiative. The state argued it is Idahoans who voted for Medicaid Expansion originally, with more than 60% of voters supporting the proposition.

"I don't see that this court can give any comfort to those people, other than the fact of allowing the statute to go into effect," said, Attorney Ken McClure.

A decision from the Supreme Court is expected within the next month. Even as the lawsuit is being weighed at the supreme court, legislators at the statehouse will begin their process of creating the laws around Medicaid Expansion in this legislative session.