Idaho

Idaho AG’s office: IFF lawsuit against Medicaid expansion ‘frivolous, unreasonable’

Volunteers gather petition signatures to add Medicaid expansion onto the November ballot

Volunteers Laurie Durocher and Paula Davis, right, gather signatures from registered voters in a Nampa neighborhood Saturday, April 7, 2018. They are looking for people in support of adding a Medicaid expansion initiative onto the November ballot.
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Volunteers Laurie Durocher and Paula Davis, right, gather signatures from registered voters in a Nampa neighborhood Saturday, April 7, 2018. They are looking for people in support of adding a Medicaid expansion initiative onto the November ballot.

The Idaho attorney general’s office says a lawsuit challenging Medicaid expansion lacks merit and is “frivolous, unreasonable and without foundation on several levels.”

The AG’s office last week told the Idaho Supreme Court that the lawsuit, brought by the Idaho Freedom Foundation conservative group, is so meritless that IFF should have to pay the state’s defense costs.

IFF board chairman Brent Regan, the named plaintiff, and IFF say Medicaid expansion would cede too much authority to the federal government and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

But the state is rebutting that argument by telling the Supreme Court that the lawsuit should be thrown out for a number of reasons.

First, a citizen or taxpayer can’t bring a lawsuit against a government action just because they are a citizen or taxpayer, Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden and his attorneys wrote.

“Petitioner has not alleged any harm to himself,” the brief says. “Instead, [Regan] has raised a generalized policy-based grievance against the state’s implementation of Medicaid expansion ...”

The lawsuit also raises “purely hypothetical concerns” and ignores legislative mechanisms that would protect the state from those “what ifs,” the brief argues.

Two mothers and a group representing thousands of medical providers have been granted permission to enter the case as well, making an argument in favor of implementing Medicaid expansion.

Idaho voters approved Proposition 2, expanding Medicaid to childless and low-income adults, by more than 60 percent in the 2018 election. The measure received support from Republican and Democratic voters, including in solidly Republican counties.

Oral arguments in the case are set for late January in Boise.

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