Editorials

Listen up, IFF: Idahoans should get what they voted for with Prop 2

Voters wait Tuesday for a voting booth to open up at the District 19 precinct at Riverglen Junior High School in Northwest Boise. A polarized national political climate and the citizen-proposed Medicaid-expansion measure on Idaho’s ballot likely contributed to extraordinary voter turnout, a Boise political scientist says.
Voters wait Tuesday for a voting booth to open up at the District 19 precinct at Riverglen Junior High School in Northwest Boise. A polarized national political climate and the citizen-proposed Medicaid-expansion measure on Idaho’s ballot likely contributed to extraordinary voter turnout, a Boise political scientist says. doswald@idahostatesman.com

Idaho voters went into last week’s election fully informed on Proposition 2, the Medicaid expansion initiative.

Backers and opponents did a good job of explaining both the benefits and consequences of the measure. On Election Day, Idahoans overwhelmingly passed Prop 2, giving it 60.6 percent of the vote.

That’s a powerful and convincing statement of support.

Idaho residents should now get what they voted for. Those who fought the proposal should accept and respect the results and not attempt to win through the courts what they lost at the ballot box.

And yet the Idaho Freedom Foundation, which waged an anti-Prop 2 campaign, announced after the election it will continue trying to derail the expansion. In announcing plans for a legal challenge, IFF President Wayne Hoffman declared the vote “was not the last word on the subject,” and a spokesman for the group said, “This isn’t over.”

It must be. Taxpayers should not have to bear the cost of defending a lawsuit aimed at subverting the will of the people.

While not offering any details, Hoffman said in a press release the IFF may challenge Prop 2 on constitutional grounds. That’s a sketchy proposition.

Apparently the freedom to vote in overwhelming numbers for an initiative placed on the ballot by a large number of Idaho voters is not a freedom the Idaho Freedom Foundation supports. If it cannot support the very basis of our system of government, majority rule at the ballot box, one wonders what it does support. Perhaps it is a freedom that is only present if Idaho voters agree with them.

Medicaid expansion may indeed turn out to be bad policy, as Hoffman contends. But that does not put it afoul of the state Constitution. Given that there are no civil rights issues involved, the IFF can expect a skeptical reception from the courts, which traditionally are reluctant for any other reason to deny citizens the policies they adopt through the amendment process.

Hoffman has written that Prop 2 cedes local control to the federal government and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. But again, 365,000 people in Idaho used their votes to say they are OK with that.

The Idaho Freedom Foundation has no business trying to protect voters from themselves. The state Constitution gives voters the right through the direct democracy process to set or change policies.

They did so with Prop 2.

The Medicaid expansion should be implemented the way voters intended. If it doesn’t work out, they can go back to the ballot box.

But the people have spoken. The Idaho Freedom Foundation and the courts should heed what they said.

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