WASHINGTON (AP) — A Republican senator on Monday sued to stop the government from paying most of the medical insurance premiums for members of Congress and their aides who are now required to obtain coverage through the new health care law’s state exchanges.
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., filed a lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court in Green Bay, Wis., challenging a September ruling by the Office of Personnel Management. The agency ruled that lawmakers and their staffs should continue to receive health care benefits covering about 75 percent of their premium costs after leaving the health insurance program for federal workers.
Johnson said the OPM ruling on the application of President Barrack Obama‘s health care overhaul to lawmakers and their aides amounted to special treatment for Congress: “It’s a basic issue of fairness,” he said.
The lawsuit marks a new front in some Republicans’ attempt to stop what they say is a special carve-out for political elites in the Affordable Care Act. Last year, Johnson joined other Republicans in backing an effort by Sen. David Vitter, R-La., to halt federal contributions toward health coverage for members of Congress, their staffs and other political appointees in the federal government.
The health care overhaul law sometimes referred to as “Obamacare” requires members of Congress and their staffs to leave the federal health plan and buy insurance through exchanges created by the law. But only low-income Americans are eligible for subsides on the exchanges.
The federal subsidies that members of Congress and their staff currently receive are in line with those paid by most private employers and are the same as other federal employees who are continuing in the federal plan. But Johnson argues that they were not specifically detailed in the health care law and therefore are illegal.
“This lawsuit is about enforcing the law,” Johnson said at a Capitol press conference on Monday.
Johnson was joined by his lawyers, Paul Clement, who argued against the Affordable Care Act in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, and Rick Esenberg, the founder, president and general counsel of the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty. They would be paid through a mix of personal funds and Johnson’s campaign fund, Johnson said.
According to the lawsuit, the OPM ruling “does not treat members of Congress and their staffs like members’ constituents. Instead, it puts them in a better position by providing them with a continuing tax-free subsidy.”
The lawsuit could take months or even years to move through the legal system. Johnson said he filed in Wisconsin because that is where he lives.
Democrats have criticized Republican efforts to kill the subsidy for lawmakers and their aides, saying it is petty and political. Johnson also came under immediate criticism from a fellow Republican.
Rep. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin called Johnson’s lawsuit an “unfortunate political stunt.”
All Republicans want to repeal Obamacare, Sensenbrenner said, but the lawsuit “takes public attention away from how bad all of Obamacare really is and focuses it on a trivial issue.”
(AP Photo: Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., right, accompanied by attorney Rick Esenberg, left, announces that he has filed a lawsuit to block the federal government from helping to pay for health care coverage for members of Congress and their staffs.)
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
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2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
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3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
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4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
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5. Jus haaaanngin out
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6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
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7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
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8. new new
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9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
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10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
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11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
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13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
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14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
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15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
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16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
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17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
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18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
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19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
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20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
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22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
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23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
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24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
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25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
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26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
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27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
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28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
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29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
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30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
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