INTERVIEW: Bryan Smith reacts to Idaho Supreme Court decision on Medicaid

Image Courtesy: Bryan Smith

Listen to KID NewsRadio’s full interview with Idaho Falls attorney Bryan Smith


IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — Medicaid expansion is here to stay after Idaho’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of keeping the voter passed initiative as it stands, rejecting Idaho Falls attorney Bryan Smith’s legal challenge to the initiative’s constitutionality.

“It’s really is disappointing and that what people need to understand is the Supreme Court, what they say isn’t always right, but what they say is always last,” Bryan Smith told KID NewsRadio. “So, this is what we’ve got, this is the decision we’ve got.”

Even though the state’s highest court did not rule in his favor, Smith said he does see some silver lining for how Medicaid will be handled going forward.

“Had we not filed this case and the federal government changed the rules in the future, I can assure you that the Department of Health and Welfare in the state of Idaho would implement those new rules as an executive in the state of Idaho without legislative approval, and they would’ve said, ‘Hey, this statute tells us that we have to implement Medicaid pursuant to federal law,’ and they would have implemented the future changes without consulting the legislature,” Smith said. “Given this case, the Supreme Court made it very clear that they cannot do that, which means that if the federal government does change the rules, the percentage requirement or the Medicaid eligibility, that the Department of Health and Welfare cannot implement those changes without first getting legislative approval. So for me, I know that people will say that we lost, but we actually got something. I think that is pretty important for the people of Idaho.”

Smith also said the future of Medicaid expansion in the state will largely be determined by what the federal government does, and a recent case out of Texas could put government funded health insurance in a tricky position. In that particular case, a judge ruled Obamacare unconstitutional and that could mean the beginning of the end for programs like Idaho’s.

“The federal judge in Texas said that because that part has been ripped out of Obamacare, it’s not separable from the rest of the statute, and therefore the rest of the statute fails. It’s unconstitutional,” Smith said. “Well, the importance of this is, is that if in fact that’s affirmed on appeal through the United States Supreme Court and Obamacare is found to be unconstitutional for those reasons, Medicaid expansion is part of Obamacare, so that would mean that Medicaid expansion would also fail. So, there still is one more opportunity to reverse the effects of Medicaid expansion.”