KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Sen. Johnson’s Suit On Obamacare Blasted By Fellow Republican

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., is attacking the lawsuit filed Monday by Sen. Ron Johnson, also a Republican from Wisconsin, that seeks to change how the health law is applied to Congress and to cut off federal government payments.

Reuters: U.S. Senator Sues Over Healthcare Subsidy For Congress
U.S. Senator Ron Johnson filed a lawsuit on Monday challenging the way President Barack Obama's healthcare law is being applied to Congress, part of a larger Republican strategy to draw attention to what they see as critical flaws in Obama's signature domestic policy. Johnson, of Wisconsin, is challenging a U.S. agency decision allowing the federal government to keep paying part of the costs of health insurance for U.S. lawmakers and their staffs who must buy coverage through the Obamacare marketplaces (Cornwell and Chiacu, 1/6).

CNN: Republican Senator Takes Obamacare Grievance To Court
The law essentially says that the only health coverage available to members of Congress and their staff through their job must come from the newly created Obamacare insurance exchanges. But the wording in the law is broad and the Office of Personnel Management had to issue a rule to determine how it would apply. That rule, Johnson alleges, subverted the law and opened up loopholes by allowing each member of Congress to determine which workers on their staff would be forced into the exchange and by giving thousands of dollars in employer-sponsored health benefit to help pay for the exchange policies (Desjardins and Merica, 1/6).

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: Sen. Ron Johnson: Obamacare Suit Not A 'Stunt'
Sen. Ron Johnson and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, both Wisconsin Republicans, both want the Affordable Care Act repealed. But the lawmakers disagreed Monday about a lawsuit (PDF) Mr. Johnson filed related to the law. ... Mr. Sensenbrenner issued a statement on his website blasting the lawsuit, calling it an "an unfortunate political stunt." Mr. Sensenbrenner said .... Asked about Mr. Sensenbrenner’s statement during a press conference, Mr. Johnson replied: "I'm disappointed. I'm a little puzzled by his reaction." Mr. Johnson continued, "I don't in any way shape or form believe this is trivial, that this is frivolous, this is a stunt. I believe it's a very important Constitutional question" (Corbett Dooren, 1/6).

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Sen. Ron Johnson's Obamacare Lawsuit Widens GOP Rift
Johnson's filing further stirred a rift within his own party over how Republicans should attack the health care law. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, a fellow Wisconsin Republican and ardent Obamacare critic, ... who even before Johnson filed his suit called the litigation "an unfortunate political stunt" that "focuses on trivial issues," amplified his criticism Monday. Sensenbrenner noted that having employers help pay for health insurance is a common benefit. Ending the practice 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, Sensenbrenner said (Marley, 1/6).

CBS News: Republican Senator Suing Administration Over Obamacare
[Meanwhile,] Johnson’s colleague, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., also voiced frustrations with his own attempts to sign up for coverage. He says he's unsure whether he actually has insurance, and that things were particularly problematic when he tried to get his son signed up and received a Medicaid card (Kaplan, 1/6).

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