The Taipei Administrative High Court ruled against the Taipei City Government yesterday in a lawsuit challenging the central government's request that it repay its health insurance subsidy debts. The court ruled that the city must pay its health and labor insurance subsidy debts totalling approximately NT$20.8 billion, but the city government is allowed to appeal the ruling within 20 days of the verdict.
The Taipei City Government was sued by the Cabinet's Bureau of National Health Insurance (中央健保局) and Bureau of Labor Insurance (勞工保險局) for not paying its health insurance subsidy debts of NT$10.8 billion, for the period of 1999 to 2002, and NT$10 billion for the periods of 1992 to 1995 and November 2000 to January 2003.
The health and labor insurance bureaus filed the administrative lawsuit against the city after it agreed only to pay the insurance of those people from the city of Taipei, and not those people who have moved to the city and are insured through employers.
Yesterday's verdict gives the green light for both bureaus to have the proper authorities enforce the ruling if the city refuses to pay the money it owes -- regardless an appeal outcome.
"By law, although the defendant [Taipei City Government] is allowed to file an appeal within 20 days, the plaintiffs [the bureaus] are authorized to ask for the enforcement of the verdict to get the money back no matter if an appeal is filed or not," said Chang Chung-wen (張瓊文), spokeswoman for the Taipei Administrative High Court.
The case has been lingering for more than two years. Taipei City Government argued that the central government should pay for health insurance subsidies on their own instead of asking local governments to contribute, a request the city says is against the Constitution. The central government then filed an application to the Council of Grand Justices and asked for an interpretation on the issue.
According to the city, the central government's request violated a local government's right of financial independence.
On Oct. 4, 2002, the grand justices also ruled that the Taipei City Government must pay its debts to the bureaus.
Interpretation Article 550 to the Constitution ruled that the central government's request was both legal and reasonable. As a result, the city's argument that the central government was violating a local governments' rights to financial independence was rendered moot.
In addition, the grand justices ruled that both the central government and the city must cooperate on the issue and reach some sort of agreement , since health insurance is the right of every citizen.
According to Article 27 of the National Health Insurance Law (全民健保法), local governments must pay the health insurance subsidies for all residents of a city.
Also see stories: