Wisconsin Sen. Johnson is suing the administration for offering health care subsidies to Congress and its aides, if they buy plans on the federal exchange.
Johnson claims the offer is illegal because it gives subsidies to a special group of federal workers but not to all Americans. The Affordable Care Act provides subsidies for people who meet certain income guidelines, but Johnson says members of Congress earn well above that threshold. The administration insists the offer to help pay the cost of premiums, is a job benefit.
Johnson says lawmakers voted not to include employer contributions for members of Congress and congressional staff.
“My lawsuit is basically to overturn that unequal, that special treatment for members of Congress, which was granted by executive fiat that President Obama doesn’t have the authority to do,” Johnson says.
Johnson says the Obama administration has made more than 20 changes to the Affordable Care Act, without seeking congressional approval. He says a number of his Republican colleagues share his concern and have come to his side in the lawsuit.
Wisconsin U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner is not among them. While he opposes the Affordable Care Act, Sensenbrenner says the lawsuit is “an unfortunate political stunt,” that focuses on a “trivial” issue.
Sensenbrenner adds, employer contributions to health care are a standard benefit in many workplaces. And he says the benefit helps employers – including members of Congress – retain the best workers.
Sen. Johnson’s lawsuit is in the hands of a federal judge in Green Bay, who has scheduled oral arguments for Monday. He’ll decide whether Johnson has standing to challenge the Obama administration’s rule in court.