The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has thrown out a federal regulation implementing key subsidies of President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law, ObamaCare.
It means that participants in health exchanges run by the federal government in 34 states are not eligible for help.
The ruling deals a setback to ObamaCare, jeopardizing health insurance for four million low and middle-income people.
The White House said it is confident in its legal position on subsidies.
The ObamaCare has been under siege by opponents since it was passed in 2010.
A three-judge panel found in favor of plaintiffs who sued over tax credits for people buying health insurance.
The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has thrown out a federal regulation implementing key subsidies of ObamaCare
“Our ruling will likely have significant consequences both for millions of individuals receiving tax credits through federal Exchanges and for health insurance markets more broadly,” Senior Circuit Judge Raymond Randolph in his majority opinion.
The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled on Halbig v Burwell on Tuesday, one of four lawsuits currently challenging the legality of Internal Revenue Service (IRS)-funded subsidies under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
The court – considered the second highest in the nation behind the US Supreme Court – returned the case to a lower court with instructions to rule in favor to plaintiffs who had fought against the subsidies being offered in 36 states.
The IRS is said to have dispensed billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies through federal healthcare exchanges, or marketplaces.
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit argued they were injured by the IRS actions because it triggered additional taxes for employers.
The subsidies, or tax credits, have been made available to Americans with annual incomes up to 400% the federal poverty level.
That works out to $94,000 for a family of four.
In a dissenting opinion, Judge Harry Edwards calling the lawsuit a “not-so-veiled attempt to gut” the healthcare law, and “portends disastrous consequences”.
The US Appeals Court’s ruling may impact on more than four million Americans who are currently eligible for subsidies to offset their healthcare costs.
Should this mean large numbers of people be ineligible for health insurance, it would result in higher overall premiums for non-subsidized members.
The ruling is the latest blow for the embattled healthcare law, which last month saw the US Supreme Court overturn a crucial portion regarding contraception coverage.
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Former Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi’s conviction for tax fraud has been upheld by an appeals court in Milan.
The court also reinstated a four-year prison sentence and five-year ban from public office Silvio Berlusconi was handed in October.
Silvio Berlusconi was convicted of artificially inflating prices of film distribution rights bought by his company, Mediaset, to avoid taxes.
He is now expected to appeal against Wednesday’s ruling at Italy’s highest court, the Court of Cassation.
Silvio Berlusconi, 76, has denied the charges and said they are politically motivated.
But instead of overturning October’s verdict, the Milan appeals court on Wednesday upheld his conviction for tax evasion and re-instated the original jail sentence. The four-year term had been cut to one year by a lower court because of his age.
Silvio Berlusconi’s conviction for tax fraud has been upheld by an appeals court in Milan
“We knew it would go like this,” Silvio Berlusconi’s defense lawyer Niccolo Ghedini told reporters.
There is however no real prospect of Silvio Berlusconi being jailed, as he will exercise his right to appeal and the case will actually soon expire under a time limit.
Nevertheless, this is another major legal blow for Silvio Berlusconi, whose People of Freedom (PdL) party is part of Italy’s new coalition government.
In the eyes of the law Silvio Berlusconi is a convicted fraudster, but he will argue as he always does that all his legal troubles are the simply the work of his political enemies – left-wing elements in the judiciary.
In March, silvio Berlusconi was sentenced to a year in jail after being convicted of arranging for a police wiretap concerning a political rival to be leaked and published in a newspaper run by his brother. He denied the charges and is expected to appeal.
Silvio Berlusconi is also currently on trial for allegedly paying for sex with an underage prostitute, and later abusing his powers by putting pressure on the police to release her from custody. He has admitted sending her money, but insists the funds were meant as a gift.
In other trials over the years, Silvio Berlusconi has been accused of charges including accounting fraud, perjury, bribery and corruption. He has denied all the accusations against him and has either been acquitted or let off under statutes of limitations.
Silvio Berlusconi’s trials:
- Accused of paying for sex with an underage prostitute: Verdict due
- Convicted and sentenced to a year in jail for arranging leak of police wiretap
- Accused of tax fraud over deals his firm Mediaset made to purchase TV rights to US films: Convicted in October 2012; Sentence upheld by appeals court in May
- Two other corruption cases involving tax evasion and bribery of a British lawyer: Expired under statute of limitations
A Cairo appeals court has ordered former Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak back to prison from military hospital.
Hosni Mubarak’s retrial will open on May, the court ruled.
The former leader is charged alongside his former interior minister and six former security chiefs with complicity in the murder and attempted murder of hundreds of protesters in January 2011.
Former Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak has been ordered back to prison from military hospital
The retrial was meant to begin on April 13 but collapsed when the presiding judge withdrew from the case.
AFP news agency quotes judicial sources as saying that Judge Mahmud al-Rashidi will preside over the case at the North Cairo Criminal Court.
Hosni Mubarak will also face corruption charges, along with his sons, Alaa and Gamal, and businessman Hussein Salem.