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On March 4, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case of King v. Burwell, a lawsuit seeking to strip premium tax credits from people living in states with a federal insurance marketplace under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Under the law, a state can set up its own marketplace and website where insurers compete for consumers. If they don’t, the federal government comes in and operates one instead, and the state’s consumers can shop for insurance plans on Healthcare.gov. The federal marketplaces operate in some capacity in roughly three dozen states.
The law has many parts, but there are three main components at its core: (1) banning insurance companies from denying coverage because of a pre-existing condition; (2) requiring everyone take personal responsibility by getting covered; and, (3) providing tax credits to make coverage affordable.
What’s at stake in this case, then, is whether one of the three pillars of the law can continue in the roughly three dozen of states using the federal marketplaces. As of January 2015, 87 percent of people enrolled in the federal marketplaces received a tax credit.
A ruling in favor of the plaintiffs in the King v Burwell case would have disastrous consequences for the millions of people who are benefiting from the law.
Video produced by Andrew Satter, Center for American Progress
Additional footage provided by the Department of Health and Human Services