38 GOP Lawmakers Support Lawsuit Against Congressional Subsidies
On Monday, 38 Republican lawmakers signed an amicus brief in support of a lawsuit that alleges that the Affordable Care Act provides "special treatment" for members of Congress and their staffs, the Washington Times reports (Boyer, Washington Times, 4/22).
Background on Issue, Lawsuit
The federal government historically has subsidized about 75% of the cost of health insurance offered to lawmakers and their staff members through the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program. However, the ACA requires lawmakers and certain staffers by March to shift out of FEHBP and instead purchase coverage through the exchanges (California Healthline, 8/8/13).
In September 2013, the Office of Personnel Management issued a final rule stating that lawmakers and their staffers must purchase health insurance through the District of Columbia's small business insurance exchange to continue to receive those employer contributions (California Healthline, 10/2/13).
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) earlier this year filed a lawsuit arguing that the OPM directive is not authorized by the ACA and that the policy forces him to comply with a requirement that is illegal.
The Department of Justice has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that Johnson does not have standing (California Healthline, 3/20).
Amicus Brief Details
According to the Times, the amicus brief calls the subsidized exchange coverage for lawmakers "unlawful," adding that the change to the law is "not an isolated incident ... [but] is part of an ongoing campaign by the executive branch to rewrite [the ACA]." The brief also lists several examples in which the lawmakers claim President Obama used "non-existent authority" to rewrite parts of the ACA, including the:
- Revision of the individual mandate;
- Postponement of the employer mandate;
- Revision and postponement of insurance plan regulations;
- Unauthorized expansion of federal subsidies; and
- Postponement of the Medicaid maintenance-of-effort provision.
Some of the Republican lawmakers who signed the brief include:
- Rep. Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.);
- Sen. Saxby Chambliss (Ga.);
- Sen. Tom Coburn (Okla.);
- Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas);
- Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.);
- Sen. John McCain (Ariz.); and
- Rep. Matt Salmon (Ariz.) (Washington Times, 4/21).