WASHINGTON — Describing it a simple issue of fairness, Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson on Monday filed his lawsuit against the Obama administration over the so-called Obamacare exemption for Congress.
Unveiling the new plan of attack against the health care law, Johnson said he wants the courts to overturn the Office of Personnel Management rule that “gives members of Congress and their staffs special treatment under the health care law.”
The Office of Personnel Management is allowing subsidies to help cover the new costs of health insurance for members of Congress under the Affordable Care Act.
“I think it’s just a basic issue of fairness,” Johnson said in a room off the Senate floor on Monday. “I really do believe the American people expect — and they have every right to expect — that members of Congress should be fully subject to all the rules, all the laws, that Congress imposes on the rest of America.”
“That is not the case with the healthcare law and particularly this Office of Personnel Management ruling,” he said.
The 19-page lawsuit filed by Johnson in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin lists Office of Personnel Management director Katherine Archuleta as the defendant.
The “Obamacare fix” for lawmakers and staff decried by Johnson was made because President Obama’s health care law changed how the government currently covers most of the cost of health-care premiums for members of Congress and their staffers. The new law mandates that members and staff must enter into exchanges or be covered by insurance “created” by law.
But after concerns about the cost of health care going up for congressional employees, the Office of Personnel Management announced in August that it would provide a subsidy of about 75 percent of the cost for the health care of members and staff.
Some lawmakers, including Johnson, have refused the subsidy, opting instead to buy insurance for themselves and their staff on the new Obamacare exchanges.
Johnson said he is also filing the lawsuit to “hopefully provide a very long overdue check on presidential power, expanding presidential power, particularly with this administration.”
Johnson is funding the lawsuit through his campaign committee after guidance from from the Senate Ethics Committee.
The Wisconsin senator said another result of his lawsuit would be to show lawmakers how much money health care benefits cost.