This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument in King v. Burwell, which raises the issue of whether the federal government can provide tax subsidies to people who buy insurance on the federal exchange because their state declined to establish its own insurance exchange. Our earlier post details the arguments at play. SCOTUS Blog has extensive analysis of the oral argument and what can be read into the various questions and answers. In addition, Reuters speculates that the four Democratic appointees to the Court will rule in favor of the subsidies, and of the five Republican appointees, Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Kennedy are potential swing votes that could tip the scales one way or the other.
The written transcript will be available today. On Friday, audio of the argument will be available here after being released by the Court, which notably declined requests to release the audio the same day as the argument like it did in the constitutionality cases. But, only the Justices and their clerks will know the outcome until June, when a decision is expected to be issued in the final days of the Court’s term.
Commentary on the case is everywhere (the SCOTUS blog has a good collection in their Wednesday round-up), ranging from forecasts of who might win, how the individual Justices may vote, what might happen to exchange coverage if the subsidies are taken away, and whether Congress or the Obama administration have contingency plans if the subsidies disappear. The periodic barrage of commentary is likely to continue in the press until a decision comes out. In the meantime, insurers will certainly be doing contingency planning of their own, though it will likely be quieter than the political debate.