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US Senator files lawsuit over health care provision

US Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) [official website] filed a lawsuit Monday against the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM) [official website] in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin [official website] attempting to block the federal government from paying a portion of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) [text; JURIST backgrounder] health care coverage for members of Congress and their staffs. The government had made employer contributions to health insurance plans prior to the enactment of the PPACA, and OPM extended that support even when those people purchased coverage through the PPACA's online marketplace. Johnson claims [Reuters report] this decision permits Congress members and their staffs to enjoy "special treatment" [Johnson's WSJ op-ed] that ordinary Americans do not receive, and was an overstepping of OPM's authority. Johnson also held a press conference about the lawsuit on Monday.

US Representative James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) [official website] criticized [press release] Johnson's lawsuit as an "unfortunate political stunt" and referred to the lawsuit as "frivolous," to which Johnson responded [press release] that the lawsuit is "an issue of basic fairness that I believe is worth fighting for."

Johnson's challenge is one of the latest developments and one of several criticisms [JURIST op-ed] concerning the PPACA. On Friday the US government filed a motion [JURIST report] asking the US Supreme Court [official website] to remove the stay [JURIST report] on the contraception mandate in the PPACA that was put in place by Justice Sonia Sotomayor earlier that week. Last December the Supreme court refused to hear [JURIST report] a challenge [SCOTUSblog backgrounder] by Liberty University [official website] to the PPACA mandate requiring employers to provide affordable health insurance for their employees. In June the US Department of Treasury (DOT) [official website] announced that it will delay enforcing [JURIST report] the PPACA employer mandate for businesses with 50 or more full-time employees until 2015. The Supreme Court ruled last year that the "individual mandate" [text] provision of the act, which requires every person, with some exceptions for religious and other reasons, to purchase some form of health insurance by January 1, 2014, did not violate the Constitution [JURIST report]. The PPACA was signed into law [JURIST report] by President Barack Obama in March 2010.

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