The fight by Sen. Ron Johnson (R–Wis.) to sue the federal personnel office over Obamacare gained support yesterday in a friend-of-the-court brief joined by 38 fellow Republican lawmakers: 12 in the Senate and 26 in the House of Representatives. The brief was filed along with Johnson’s response to the federal government’s motion to dismiss his lawsuit. Johnson filed his lawsuit in January against the head of the Office of Personnel Managment (OPM), the agency that oversees the federal government’s health insurance program.
Under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, members of Congress and their staff were moved out of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program that OPM runs and required to buy health insurance through the online insurance exchanges set up by the health care law.
Johnson said OPM had no federal authority and unlawfully acted when it decided that those lawmakers and their staff could receive premium assistance to buy their health insurance through Obamacare, as they had done so in the old employees program.
The GOP lawmakers, including Sens. John McCain (Ariz.), Tom Coburn (Okla.), and Ted Cruz (Texas), said in the amicus brief that the OPM decision “is not an isolated incident.” Their brief continues:
Rather, it is part of an ongoing campaign by the Executive Branch to rewrite [Obamacare] on a wholesale basis. If left unchecked, that campaign threatens to subvert the most basic precept of our system of government: The President of the United States is constitutionally obligated to take care that the law be faithfully executed; he does not have the power to modify or ignore laws that have been duly enacted by Congress and that he believes are constitutional.
The federal government and other critics of Johnson’s lawsuit have argued that the OPM’s rule change is merely the continuation of an employer contributing to a worker’s health plan, much like private-sector employees receiving contributions for their job-based health plans.