Republican Senator Ron Johnson claims he will sue to stop politicians and Congressional staff from taking advantage of government subsidies for health insurance from the Affordable Care Act exchange system, according to a tweet by Los Angeles Times reporter Mike Memoli. Losing these subsidies will significantly raise premiums for this group.
As it stands now, some Washington employees — including lawmakers as well as low-level staff members — will need to switch from their existing insurance plans to those offered by Obamacare.
In August, the Office of Personnel Management ruled that Congressional employees could apply employer contributions toward their purchase of a new plan, defraying the costs. However, some Republicans balked at the idea, claiming that Washington employees should not receive special treatment. Now Johnson is threatening to sue over the issue.
The federal government is set to be the only major employer to offer employee subsidies, but that could change, according to Think Progress. Other big companies may begin to offer subsidies of their own in 2017.
Republicans previously tried to stop government-subsidized health insurance with the Vitter Amendment, which was ultimately dropped.
Some Congressional staffers anonymously published their thoughts on the Vitter Amendment in The New Yorker. The lowest-paid employees feared major financial repercussions without any help in paying for insurance.
One employee wrote:
I will make $22,800 this year after taxes. That is it. I am a 30 year old married congressional staffer with a 20 month old son who depends on my job for his health insurance. My husband has to pay for his own health care through his salary, and it would cost him over $1000 a month to cover the whole family. I just started in this position 6 months ago, after being out of work for a year and staying at home with my baby. I need my health insurance, and I cannot afford to pay $600 a month for coverage. Without this so called “subsidy” (the same “subsidy” congressional staffers have been receiving for years before the ACA) both myself and my son will be uninsured.