King v. Burwell: Key dates

King v. Burwell Supreme Court case: What you need to know [Special Report]

By Dori Zweig

The case being argued before the Supreme Court stems from two federal lawsuits initially filed more than one year ago. Here's a quick rundown of when those cases were heard, what the judges said and how the cases made their way through the judicial system.

  • January 2014: Halbig v. Sebelius lawsuit filed. The case, filed by a group of individuals and employers in states that declined to establish their own exchanges, argued that tax credits are limited only to states running their own exchanges. A federal judge ruled that all eligible Americans, regardless of whether they purchased coverage through federal or state marketplaces, were able to receive federal subsidies.
  • February 2014: King v. Sebelius lawsuit filed. The case, brought by four Virginia residents, echoed the same argument: Only residents in states that established their own exchanges qualified for subsidies. However, a federal judge in Virginia dismissed the lawsuit.
  • July 2014: Appeals courts disagreed about legality of subsidies. Regarding Halbig v. Burwell--the case's name changed after current Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell took over for Kathleen Sebelius--the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled subsidies were illegal on the federal exchange. A few hours later, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in King v. Burwell that subsidies were legal on both the state and federal exchanges.
  • September 2014: Federal judge in Oklahoma struck down subsidies. Judge Ronald A. White ruled that subsides could not be issued to residents living in states that do not run their own exchanges.
  • November 2014: Supreme Court decided to hear King v. Burwell. The high court agreed to hear the challenge to the legality of the subsidies. The Supreme Court later set the date of March 4 to hear the oral arguments. A decision likely will come in June.