Idaho's challenge of the 2010 health care reform law, which the Supreme Court upheld almost entirely Thursday, cost the state a total of $18,337, according to the office of Attorney General Lawrence Wasden.
About $16,000 was paid to the office of Florida's Attorney General. Florida led the charge by 26 states, including Idaho, that the law was unconstitutional. The remainder, about $2,000, paid for Wasden to travel to Washington, D.C., for the historic three-day-long oral arguments before the Supreme Court in March.
In joining the lawsuit, Idaho pooled its money with others "to minimize the cost and share the cost among the states," said Bob Cooper, spokesman for the Attorney General's Office.
"It was a significant victory in state's rights and sovereignty issues," Cooper said when asked if the expense was worth it.
The court ruled that the law's mandate to buy health insurance was legal under the federal government's power to tax. But Idaho had argued the law's mandate was an illegal use of the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
"The court directly sustained our argument on that point," Wasden told the Idaho Statesman Thursday. It also ruled in favor of states arguing that the law wasn't a "necessary and proper" act of Congress to carry out its powers.
Cooper said that "for that fairly modest investment, in a legal sense, the state obtained a pretty important precedent."
The Supreme Court's decision struck down a part of the law that ordered states to expand Medicaid eligibility to everyone close to the poverty line not just pregnant women, children and other specific groups, like the disabled. The ruling gave states more latitude in making the choice to expand Medicaid.
If the Idaho Legislature doesn't open Medicaid to those with incomes up to 133 percent of the poverty line, "the savings will be orders of magnitude beyond the cost of litigation," Cooper said. But "from the Attorney General's perspective, that [decision about Medicaid] is clearly a matter of legislative discretion."