Policy & Research


King v. Burwell Oral Argument: The case that puts ACA consumer tax credits in question

The case that puts ACA consumer tax credits in question

By Linda J. Sheppard, J.D. | March 13, 2015

King v. Burwell Oral Argument: The case that puts ACA consumer tax credits in question
Photo by Dana Verkouteren/AP Attorney for the Plaintiffs, Michael Carvin, speaks before U.S. Supreme Court justices in a major challenge to the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—King v. Burwell, March 4, 2015.

Portions of the Affordable Care Act are being reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court in a case known as “King v. Burwell,” pertaining to the availability of federal tax credits to help offset consumer costs for insurance premiums in states where the federal government runs the health insurance exchanges through Healthcare.gov. On Wednesday, March 4, 2015, the court heard 90 minutes of oral argument in the case and is expected to rule on the issue in late June.

In Kansas, 96,197 individuals selected a health insurance plan through the federal exchange during the most recent enrollment period. Of these, 76,958 will receive premium tax credits to help pay for their plans for 2015. Supporters of the ACA point out that if the Supreme Court rules that subsidies are not available to those in states using the federal exchange, many of these individuals—including Kansans—would no longer be able to afford insurance and would become uninsured. On the other hand, critics of the ACA point out that the cost of the tax credits in Kansas is estimated to be nearly $195 million in 2015 alone.

The Kansas Health Institute’s Linda Sheppard, J.D., Senior Analyst and Strategy Team Leader for health reform, has prepared a summary of last week’s oral arguments in the case. Please connect with Linda should you have any additional questions about the briefing.

KHI will watch this important case closely and explain how the outcome could impact Kansas. We will release another report following the final court ruling, anticipated to come in late June of this year.

The Kansas Health Institute supports effective policymaking through nonpartisan research, education and engagement. KHI believes evidence-based information, objective analysis and civil dialogue enable policy leaders to be champions for a healthier Kansas. Established in 1995 with a multiyear grant from the Kansas Health Foundation, KHI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization based in Topeka.