by William Teach | January 6, 2014 8:12 am
We can quibble to our heart’s content over the word “exemption”, but at the end of the day the Office of Personnel Management decision violates the text of the law
(Wall Street Journal) On Monday, Jan. 6, I am filing suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin to make Congress live by the letter of the health-care law it imposed on the rest of America. By arranging for me and other members of Congress and their staffs to receive benefits intentionally ruled out by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the administration has exceeded its legal authority.
The president and his congressional supporters have also broken their promise to the American people that ObamaCare was going to be so good that they would participate in it just like everyone else. In truth, many members of Congress feel entitled to an exemption from the harsh realities of the law they helped jam down Americans’ throats in 2010. Unlike millions of their countrymen who have lost coverage and must now purchase insurance through an exchange, members and their staffs will receive an employer contribution to help pay for their new plans.
It is clear that this special treatment, via a ruling by the president’s Office of Personnel Management, was deliberately excluded in the law. During the drafting, debate and passage of ObamaCare, the issue of how the law should affect members of Congress and their staffs was repeatedly addressed. Even a cursory reading of the legislative history clearly shows the intent of Congress was to ensure that members and staff would no longer be eligible for their current coverage under the Federal Employee Health Benefit Plan.
Senator Johnson goes on to point out that once members of Congress who voted for and support Obamacare found out what’s in it and how it affect them, they went running to Obama to find a way out for themselves, ending with the magical decision by OPM to treat congress as a small business along with providing payment to Congressional members and their staffs.
The legal basis for our lawsuit (which I will file with a staff member, Brooke Ericson, as the other plaintiff) includes the fact that the OPM ruling forces me, as a member of Congress, to engage in activity that I believe violates the law. It also potentially alienates members of Congress from their constituents, since those constituents are witnessing members of Congress blatantly giving themselves and their staff special treatment.
If Johnson wins the suit, it won’t end Obamacare, much like all the suits over the contraception mandate will not end the terrible law. But, it will make Congress live under the same rules everyone else has to live under.
Crossed at Pirate’s Cove. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach.
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