UPDATE: Government attorney asks judge to toss Sen. Johnson's Ob - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: Government attorney asks judge to toss Sen. Johnson's Obamacare lawsuit

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GREEN BAY (WKOW) -- Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) took his fight against Obamacare to federal court Monday, but a U.S. attorney says Johnson's lawsuit should be thrown out.
Sen. Johnson's attorney. Rick Esenberg, argued to U.S. Judge William Griesbach that the Obama administration is illegally circumventing its own law, by allowing congressional employees to keep receiving subsidies for their health insurance premiums.

An amendment included in the Affordable Care Act stripped congressional members and staffers of their federal health insurance at the beginning of this year, forcing them to find plans in the federal or state exchanges.

That prompted an outcry from Democrats and Republicans alike, who feared they would lose staffers who faced increased insurance premiums.  They were also upset because a drafting error caused language from the original amendment. that would have preserved those subsidies, to be omitted.

But the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) crafted a solution to the problem, ruling the federal government could still continue to make an employer contribution towards those new insurance plans, through the small business exchange set up by the ACA.

But Senator Johnson says whether the amendment was flawed or not, the OPM ruling violates the law and is suing to overturn that ruling, thus eliminating those employer contributions.

"I think probably the most important thing is, Americans hate it when elected officials or people in power are exempt from laws, where they are not in the exact same position," said Sen. Johnson, speaking on the courthouse steps after the proceeding.

But Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI-2) says if Sen. Johnson's suit succeeds, it would put congressional employees in a position that no other Americans find themselves in - being prohibited from accessing employer subsidized coverage.

"It would be unfair.  It would be again, treating one class of employees different than virtually anyone else in the public and private sector in the rest of country," said Rep. Pocan.

But Sen. Johnson says illegally circumventing the law to prevent that isn't the answer.

"If President Obama doesn't like it, if Democratic Senators don't like it they need to change the law, they cannot do this through executive fiat," said Sen. Johnson.

U.S. Dept of Justice Attorney James Luh asked Judge Griesbach to throw out the lawsuit Monday morning.  Luh said Sen. Johnson has no legal standing to challenge the regulation, because he isn't personally harmed by it.

Sen. Johnson contends he is harmed however, by being forced to participate in an illegal scheme.

Judge Griesbach says he will issue a written decision on that point soon.


GREEN BAY (AP) -- A government attorney is trying to persuade a federal judge in Green Bay to toss out U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson's lawsuit challenging rules forcing congressional members and their employees to seek government-subsidized health insurance through small business exchanges.

U.S. Justice Department attorney James Luh told U.S. District Judge William Griesbach on Monday that Johnson can't sue because he hasn't shown how the rules have caused him any injury.

Johnson's attorney, Rick Esenberg, says Johnson is suffering an injury because he must decide which staff members should go through the exchanges. Esenberg also argued the rules force Johnson into illegal activity because he and his staffers aren't eligible for small business exchanges since they work for a huge employer.
It is unclear when Griesbach might rule.

Senator Johnson issued the following statement after the Monday morning hearing:

“I continue to be encouraged that my lawsuit seeking to overturn the Obama administration's granting of special treatment to members of Congress and their staff under Obamacare receives the careful judicial review it deserves. It was apparent by the briefs presented and the questions asked that the issues raised by this administration's unlawful executive actions represent a serious threat to the delicate constitutional balance between America's three coequal branches of government. I remain hopeful that I will be granted standing and my case will be tried in court.”

Capitol Bureau Chief Greg Neumann is following this story and will have more on 27 News at 5 and 6.
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