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Idaho group asks Supreme Court to block Medicaid Expansion

November 22, 2018

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A conservative group is asking the Idaho Supreme Court to overturn the voter-approved expansion of Medicaid coverage to potentially more than 60,000 low-income adults across the state.

The lawsuit filed on behalf of the Idaho Freedom Foundation Wednesday alleges that the language of the measure is unconstitutional, the Idaho Statesman reported . The plaintiff named in the lawsuit is Brent Regan, an IFF board member.

The group has been the most vocal opponent of Medicaid expansion, or Proposition 2, and officials had said after voters approved it that they would challenge the measure. Voters approved the proposition Nov. 6 by a 60 percent margin.

The expansion will cover those who earned too much to qualify for Medicaid under Idaho’s current criteria, but didn’t earn enough to be able to get subsidized health insurance coverage under the state health insurance exchange. Dubbed Idaho’s “gap population,” they were frequently left with no way to access basic medical treatment, instead relying on emergency room visits as untreated health problems became health crises.

The Medicaid expansion citizen initiative took shape after Idaho lawmakers for years refused to expand Medicaid or take other steps to significantly increase access to health care.

The IFF takes issue with the wording of the proposition, arguing that it cedes too much control to the federal government and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

The group highlights one main phrase in its request to the court — that the Department of Health and Welfare must “take all actions necessary” to implement the law. That is fairly standard legal language and appears in other Idaho laws. The IFF told the court it plans to file a brief soon that goes into more detail about why it finds that wording unconstitutional.

The foundation also says the law would put Idaho in a powerless position if the federal government were to reduce its 90 percent share of funding for Medicaid expansion to the 71 percent it provides for pre-expansion Medicaid.

Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden’s office told KIFI-TV that it would have no comment on pending litigation.

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