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 (10/15-10/21)
31 photos Launch gallery
1. Just a NY girl with BIG dreams....
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2. HAPPY CHILDREN=QUALITY PARENTING. We don't always see eye to eye on everything and that's normal. We're human beings. But we come together and do it right for what's important, the kids. We are not enemies, we are parents. And we are parents 1st. S/O to @monyettashaw for making Mason's bday memorable. S/O to @itscrystalsmith at home taking care of our other lil' Prince. ❤️❤️❤️ THIS IS WHAT CO-PARENTING LOOKS LIKE. #Blessed #Happy #AboveTheDrama #BiggerThanUs
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3. So happy to finally be able to share with you all that I’m the new Global Brand Ambassador for @Revlon! Follow my day on RevlonSnaps. Yay! Choose Love, Everybody! #RevlonXCiara #chooselove #ad
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4. Glam on point!!!@makeupbymotoko & @shaylinjoneshair #easybreezy @lifetimetv #beachesmovie #january2017 😘
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5. ✨True love ✨📸: @jessiemarrerophotography
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7. Today was not easy..but by the grace of God we all got through it. Words cannot express our gratitude for all of your Prayers, Positive thoughts and Support for us throughout the years. Tommy will be missed but most certainly never forgotten...And PLEASE don't ask "Where's Martin?.." he was there too...just not in this picture. Lol! God bless you all.. #LoveConquersAll #MartinShow
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9. West coast get ready for #RockyHorror. I will be live tweeting again. #letsdothetimewarpagain
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10. #THEKEYS pre order yours now ... Available everywhere #NOV22 #WeTheBest 🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑
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11. We about to ROCK at #KCABlackBall!! All for our life-changing effort to end 🌎 AIDS.
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12. Today's #SNAPJACK is brought to you by @yazzthegreatest 😂😂😂💋💋💋
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13. Damn girl you kinda old to be headed to the Go Go. You coming in at the age they leaving. LMAO
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14. Daddy daycare B-Boxin with @acewellstucker @shopraisingace
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15. #FBF Naviyd & URV "LIL MONSTERS"
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16. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ONE OF THE BIGGEST LEGENDS IN OUR HIPHOP HISTORY! @snoopdogg CONTINUED BLESSING AND LOVE FAMILY!!!!! REAL OG!
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17. Thank you for a beautiful night VSU! Let's do it again! #HOMECOMING
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18. Had a great time this morning with my familia Erica, Griff & Truth!!
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19. Check out my interview on @essence facebook live. #inmyownwords #nycpromo #day2
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20. #She💋 #tbt #TheCoveAtTheAtlantis #DawgPawsAndAll
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21. Bae #retailtherapy
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22. Why me and @coryhardrict got the same pose... and notee... new mouth #naked
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23. When my husband is my personal 'hype-man'! it kills me every time! 💜😂 #WHATNOW #lostfiles📷
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24. Diggy Simmons
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25. Hand full of @jacquieaiche 💙💎💍 @esnail_la 💅🏾
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26. SuperSoulers! You can watch my interview with Carl Lentz live from my Facebook page, tomorrow at 11a ET| 8a PT. #SuperSoulSunday
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27. 💋 .. When the friendship is easy like Sunday morning. ☀️
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28. Sunday mornings are the best........... hugs and cuddles with my angel
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29. #huggar16 #hellohuggars
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30. My gym is everywhere!.. #RnBMoney #TheGeneral 📸: @twelvepastseven
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31. Nothing I would rather be doing... Rocko setting up our movie, Romelō working on a puzzle & Laiyah singing and sharing all she's learning at school... I'm so grateful for the joy they've brought into my life ... Praying for peace , joy & love in the home of EVERY family ♥️ #HeadScarfPJSunday LOL 😂
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