The upside of a lawsuit that’s a downer

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On Nov. 6, 2018, a tidal wave of support for Proposition 2 rolled over the Gem State.

With North Idaho feeling the love significantly less than other quarters, the final tally left no room for argument about the Medicaid expansion initiative’s popularity: 364,861 citizens voted for it, many of them Republicans. Only 237,276 voters said no.

Yet when it comes to court challenges, a popularity contest plays no part. As much as it pains us to say it, Brent Regan has every right to challenge the people’s will. In fact, his recently filed lawsuit claiming the initiative is unconstitutional might be doing all the citizens a favor in that it should shut up any Prop 2 whining smacking of sour grapes. Perhaps even trigger-happy Republicans in the Legislature will then abide by the will of the people if the Idaho Supreme Court says the measure meets constitutional muster.

There are really no surprises here. Regan, as a heavy-hitting board member and avid financial supporter of the uber-conservative Idaho Freedom Foundation, was the odds-on favorite to play the judicial challenge card, and he came through right on cue. The ballot language opposing the proposition was penned by Regan’s Boise-based IFF troopers, so doubling down on their embarrassingly lopsided loss was as likely as the chorus of cheers from the Idahoans who overwhelmingly approved the measure.

Looking at the challenge pragmatically, it’s not likely to delay anything. Prop 2 was not expected to go into effect until January 2020 anyway.

Because of the preponderance of precedents set in roughly three dozen other states — none with the wisdom of IFF, apparently — Idaho’s Prop 2 is almost certain to stand up to Regan’s challenge in no small part because it is closely fashioned after other states’ successful measures. Much like Idaho’s Constitution is a rather unoriginal piece of writing.

While the case moseys along the proper path, supporters of Prop 2 received even more fuel for their fervor late last week. A new Georgetown University study shows that the number of uninsured children in the U.S. increased by 276,000 in 2017, bringing the number to 3.9 million nationwide. Three quarters of the children who lost coverage are in states that have not expanded Medicaid coverage.

In Idaho, the study shows an estimated 22,000 children have no health care coverage. That’s because parents who have no coverage aren’t likely to have coverage for their kids.

Proposition 2 will go a long way toward protecting all of our kids, and if that keeps IFF board members awake at night, that seems like a pretty good trade-off to us.

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