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Idaho Supreme Court upholds Medicaid expansion


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BOISE (Idaho Statesman)– The Idaho Supreme Court on Tuesday said Medicaid expansion, passed by voters as ballot Proposition 2, is legal.

The court ruled against the Idaho Freedom Foundation in its lawsuit, which argued that Prop 2 to expand Medicaid was written in a way that gave too much power to the federal government and one state agency.

Medicaid expansion will make Idaho’s working poor — those in the “Medicaid gap” — eligible for public health insurance in 2020.

The ruling came just one week after the court heard arguments from both sides: the Idaho Freedom Foundation and the Idaho Secretary of State. The court also heard from a lawyer representing Idaho physicians and two Idaho women who would qualify for expanded Medicaid.

RELATED: AG’s office: Freedom Foundation lawsuit against Medicaid expansion ‘frivolous, unreasonable’

About 61 percent of Idaho voters approved the law. It allows people who make less than 138 percent of poverty-level income to qualify for Medicaid coverage, even if they don’t have children or a disability.

The Idaho Attorney General’s Office had argued that the lawsuit — brought by IFF board chairman Brent Regan — lacked merit and was “frivolous, unreasonable and without foundation on several levels.”

The lawsuit isn’t the only challenge Medicaid expansion is facing in Idaho.

After being sworn in, Gov. Brad Little vowed to uphold the will of the voters and to support the expansion of Medicaid. But he and state legislators have discussed possible restrictions, such as work requirements. Lawmakers also must decide how to fund the expansion. Idaho would pay 10 percent of the cost, and federal funding would cover the remaining 90 percent — a much larger share than the federal government has covered for traditional Medicaid in Idaho.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare expects to submit its plan for expansion to federal officials by Feb. 18.

This article was originally published in the Idaho Statesman. It is used here with permission.