King v. Burwell: Plaintiff argument
By Dori Zweig
During the oral arguments, the plaintiffs will focus on section 1311 of the Affordable Care Act--in particular, the phrase "through an exchange established by the State." The plaintiffs argue that this wording limits federal subsidies for health insurances to residents of the 13 states and the District of Columbia that established their own exchanges and excludes residents of the 37 states that rely on Healthcare.gov.
Instead of looking at the law as a whole, the plaintiffs will base their argument on bits and pieces of the text. To them, the seven-word phrase at question threatens states to either establish their own marketplaces or lose out on billions of dollars in federal subsidies.
Additionally, the plaintiffs argue that federal subsidies are harmful because they force Americans to have health insurance or otherwise pay a fine. Without the subsidies, the plaintiffs say, they would not be able to afford insurance, and that would exempt them from paying the fine for not having insurance.