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From Health Law Daily, March 4, 2015

Justices raise questions about Congressional intent in King v. Burwell oral arguments

By Kathryn S. Beard, J.D.

On March 4, 2015, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in King v. Burwell, which hinges on the legality of an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) decision to extend premium tax subsidies to individuals who purchased health insurance plans from the federal Exchanges set up in the 34 states that refused to set up state Exchanges authorized by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. 111-148). Petitioners’ attorney Michael A. Carvin and U.S. Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli each received approximately 10 extra minutes to make their arguments before the Court. We will send you, via alert, a full analysis of the oral arguments on Thursday, March 5. In the meantime, the transcript of the oral argument is available here.

The Supreme Court approved King’s petition for writ of certiorari after two Circuit Courts issued opposite rulings on July 22, 2014 (see Federal appeals court axes subsidies for federally-run Health Insurance Exchanges, July 22, 2014; see Appellate court creates circuit split by upholding IRS Rule, July 22, 2014).

During the oral arguments, in addition to the general question of the meaning of ACA language that ties the amount of tax credits to a health plan purchased “through an Exchange established by the State” (see Countdown to King v. Burwell: A roadmap for navigating the Supreme Court arguments, March 2, 2015), additional questions were raised regarding the petitioners’ standing and whether petitioners’ understanding would cause an unconstitutional coercion of states, similar to the Court’s 2012 decision in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, also about the ACA (see Court upholds ACA, but modifies Medicaid expansion, July 2, 2012).

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