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Johnson files lawsuit against Obamacare

Bobby Vachon , News Writer
April 8, 2014
Filed under News

Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson has been making headlines with his proposed lawsuit against Obamacare.

The lawsuit, filed in January, accuses the Obama administration of overreaching its authority by issuing a regulation granting members of Congress, and their staff, subsidies to pay for health insurance purchased through an Obamacare exchange.

Other Americans receive federal subsidies only when they make less than $45,000 annually while members of Congress are paid $175,000 annually, according to the Green Bay Press Gazette.

One of Johnson’s arguments is that this is special treatment and illegal because it wasn’t spelled out in the plan.

His other argument is that it has caused the senator harm because the plan is forcing him into something he believes is against the law.

The U.S. Department of Justice asked a judge this week to dismiss this lawsuit saying, “Personal offense or indignation is not a legal basis to sue,” according to the Press Gazette article.

Although if Senator Johnson was successful in court, the outcome would likely result in a change to legislation.

“Congress would merely have to revise the act to make clear its intention with regard to insurance coverage of members and staff and who pays for it,” Michael Kraft, professor emeritus of political science, said.

There could be more backlash than just a revision of the Affordable Health Care Act, Kraft said.

Republican congressmen Jim Sensenbrenner of Illinois shares the sentiments of the people who disagree with the lawsuit.

“Ending the practice (of having employers pay for health insurance) would cause top congressional staff to leave and those aides would be replaced with recent college graduates who were still on their parents’ insurance plans. The result of that is going to be a brain drain from Congress,” Sensenbrenner said to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

For the Republicans this would mean the Obama administration is going to be able to run circles around Congress more than they do now, Sensenbrenner said.

Some people have questioned the legitimacy of Johnson’s lawsuit, and whether it’s an actual threat to the Affordable Care Act.

“The lawsuit is more of a political stunt than a serious challenge to the Affordable Care Act, so I wouldn’t think there is going to be any real consequences,” Kraft said.

Some Republicans agree with

Kraft’s thoughts on the issue. Rep. Sensenbrenner characterized Johnson’s lawsuit as an unfortunate political stunt focusing on trivial issues, according to  the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Department of Justice lawyer James Luh is working on the case to get the lawsuit dismissed.

He wrote a motion for dismissal saying Johnson was not directly injured by the regulation and thus his case has no standing.

Luh’s statement said a member of Congress seeking relief in federal court is subject to the same standing requirements as any other citizen and must demonstrate injury in fact.

To some, it seems Johnson was trying to make a larger point in filing this lawsuit.

“The case is about far more than overturning the unfair special treatment for Congress. Americans do not wish to be ruled by a king of a House of Lords,” Johnson said to the Green Bay Press-Gazette. “We expect and deserve to be treated equally under the law. That is the primary principle this case is designed to affirm.”