How Should the U.S. Supreme Court Rule in King v. Burwell?


The Affordable Care Act (A.C.A.) was passed by Congress on a party-line vote and signed into law by President Obama in March of 2010. One of the primary goals of the law was to expand the number of people in the U.S. with health insurance. One of the main ways the law does this is by providing subsidies or payments that help reduce the cost of health insurance for individuals and families. These subsidies are sent directly to insurers by the government and the consumer is responsible for any remaining costs of the insurance policies they have selected. For many people the subsidies will cover the entire cost of the policy.

The ACA instructed states to set up exchanges or online marketplaces for consumers to shop for health insurance and for those eligible to use their government subsidies to help purchase that insurance. Many states, for a variety of reasons, chose not to do so. People in those states are eligible to use, the federal marketplace to shop for health insurance.

The crux of the case King v. Burwell (2015) is how the U.S. Supreme Court interprets a portion of the A.C.A. that deals with the use of subsidies to purchase health insurance. The law specifies that subsidies are to be administered through state based exchanges only, but also creates a contingency if states do not create exchanges, by redirecting consumers to the federal marketplace.

Learn about the various for and against positions  by watching C-SPAN videos, reading related articles, and using our lesson plan.  Then participate in a “Deliberation” in your classroom regarding the King v. Burwell Supreme Court case.