Thursday, January 9, 2014

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) is Suing to Block Health Care Benefits for Congress

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., filed a lawsuit Monday challenging the Obama administration's decision to provide health insurance subsidies to members of Congress and their staff. 
The senator said he believes the decision gives lawmakers special — and illegal — treatment. 
Under the Affordable Care Act — widely known as Obamacare — members of Congress and their employees were kicked off their federal health plan and forced to buy insurance through an exchange. The federal Office of Personnel Management issued a rule last September making clear that the federal government would continue to pay the employer contribution for congressional health benefits at the same rate as if members and their staff were still on the federal employee health plan.
Some lawmakers have argued that this amounts to a federal subsidy to pay for coverage that other Americans are not entitled to. 
Only Americans who make less than about $45,000 annually qualify for federal subsidies. Members of Congress are paid $175,000 per year. 
"That's completely unfair, completely unjust," Johnson said at a press conference at the U.S. Capitol. 
His lawyers in the case are Paul Clement, a former solicitor general under George W. Bush, and Rick Esenberg, founder and president of the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty. 
The issue may seem petty to some outside the Beltway — liberal critics assailed Johnson when he first talked about suing in October, saying he was trying to deprive his own staff members of health insurance benefits. But to the senator, the case is about more than the subsidies. He said it's about reining in what he calls presidential overreach. 
"This is, I think, a very important constitutional question," said Johnson, who is funding the suit through his campaign committee.
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