By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Editor
Washington (CNN) - By Friday, Hobby Lobby would have racked up $14.3 million in fines from the Internal Revenue Service for bucking Obamacare. But in keeping with the great American tax tradition, they may have found a loophole.
The company is facing $1.3 million a day in fines for each day it chooses not to comply with a piece of the Affordable Care Act that was set to trigger for them on January 1. The craft store chain announced in December that, because of religious objections, they would face the fines for not providing certain types of birth control through their company health insurance.
The penalty was set to go into effect on the day the company's new health care plan went into effect for the year.
Peter M. Dobelbower, general counsel for Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. said in a statement released through the Becket Fund that, "Hobby Lobby discovered a way to shift the plan year for its employee health insurance, thus postponing the effective date of the mandate for several months."
The statement continued that "Hobby Lobby does not provide coverage for abortion-inducing drugs in its health care plan. Hobby Lobby will continue to vigorously defend its religious liberty and oppose the mandate and any penalties."
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Last month Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor rejected the company's appeal for a temporary relief from the steep fines while their case made its way through the lower courts.
Hobby Lobby announced a day after the ruling that it "will continue to provide health insurance to all qualified employees. To remain true to their faith, it is not their intention, as a company, to pay for abortion-inducing drugs."
In September, Hobby Lobby and affiliate Mardel, a Christian bookstore chain, sued the federal government for violating their owners' religious freedom and ability to freely exercise their religion.
The lawsuit says the companies' religious beliefs prohibit them from providing insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs. As of August 2012, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, dubbed Obamacare, requires employer-provided health care plans to provide "all Food and Drug Administration approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity," according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Churches and houses of worship are exempt from the regulation and a narrow exemption was added for nonprofit religious employers whose employees "primarily share its religious tenets" and who "primarily serve persons who share its religious tenets."
The Internal Revenue Service regulations now say that a group health care plan that "fails to comply" with the Affordable Care Act is subject to an "excise tax" of "$100 per day per individual for each day the plan does not comply with the requirement." It remains unclear how the IRS would implement and collect the excise tax.
A spokesperson for the Justice Department declined to comment on the high court's move last month.
White House officials have long said they believe they have struck an appropriate compromise between religious exemptions and women's health. The White House has not commented specifically on the Hobby Lobby case.
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The Oklahoma City-based Hobby Lobby chain has more than 500 stores that employ 13,000 employees across 42 states, and takes in $2.6 billion in sales. It is still privately held by CEO and founder David Green and members of his family.
"The foundation of our business has been, and will continue to be strong values, and honoring the Lord in a manner consistent with biblical principles," a statement on the Hobby Lobby website reads, adding that one outgrowth of that is the store is closed on Sundays to give its employees a day of rest.
MORE BACKGROUND: Hobby Lobby faces millions in fines for bucking Obamacare
The Hobby Lobby case is just one of many before the courts over the religious exemption aspects of the law. The case represents by far the biggest for-profit group challenging the health care mandate.
Part of the reason Sotomayor rejected their appeal to the Supreme Court she wrote was because their case is still pending in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.
A spokesperson for the Becket Fund said on Friday a date has yet to be set for the case to be heard in the 10th Circuit.
Can we have those who take the oath 'till death do you part,' are fervently religious, and have a divorce forfeit their right to life?
Would be interesting to see some members of the god squad having to live, literally, by their own fractured belief system.
How bout a mandate to pay for your own Cell Phone!!!
That would be a hoot.
Do some research, ass hole...the government only started doing that in 2008 on BUSH'S WATCH, when the shift from landlines to cells begame prevalent (which was paid for by the gov't, starting the 80's, look it up, jerk) to give poor and elderly citizens a way to reach help in an emergency. Turn off Beck once in a while, you tool.
But then how are they supposed to call to make their free Dr. appointment and schedule their free MRIs?
You perchance took a wrong turn down a street into a poorer section of town... you have an accident.
Sorry you died... no one had a phone to call 911 for you. They were all too poor.
Health issues shouldn't be controlled by a business you work for. Rx is a person's business between them and their doctors, and their insuance companies. Does Hobby Lobby ask all of their employees about their personal business before they hire them? If their resumes are acceptable according to the job they are filling, that is really all a business needs to know about. I like Hobby Lobby, and am surprised and disappointed that they are so immovable about what doesn't concern them. It seems radical, and unAmerican.
Gloria, Hobby Lobby is opposed to paying for abortions.
ObamaCare requires that they pay for RU-486, Mifepristone, otherwise known as the "day after" pill.
RU-486 is an abortion pill, labeled as "birth control" by ObamaCare.
Klintz is still wrong.
If the company is subsidizing the employees health care they should have a say in the policy provisions. If the employee doesn't like it they should go to a government exchange, whenever the heck they are set up.
BULLSH!T!!!! They don't pay for RU86, they pay for the morning after pill, which is, in fact, an emergency contraceptive! Fvcking STOP lying, Limbaugh!
RU-486 is NOT the morning after pill. The morning after pill is essentially a concentrated form birth control pills. It merely prevents fertilization. You can have moral stands, but please educate yourself on the science.
Seems like during the push for votes from the House that Obama promised to have a presidential mandate that would not allow the bill to pay for abortions. Ask Mr. Stupack from Michigan how that went! He was LIED to as were the other dozen Democrats who are pro-life. From Obama's words-easy come, easy go. And Stupack is a goner.
Klintz is a partisan hack. And not even a marginally smart one.
Contraception is not necessary for your health. In fact the point of the pill is to "mess up" the normal reproductive cycle of a woman. The idea that somehow contraception and abortion are natural, necessary processes and procedures is wrong.
Ahhhh - Loopholes :
The very epitome of the Christian ethic ! !
There is a simple solution. Make every employee part time. No insurance. Let every one buy their own so they can have a choice.
Nice solution there buddy boy.....they would not be able to afford insurance....how christian of you.
jimmy - Yet ANOTHER fine Christian ethicist at "work" ! ! !
Your types are the REASON for government Rules and Regulations !
Put them in jail.....self righteous hypocrites
Sounds like the pot calling the kettle black....
ObamaCare requires companies to pay for RU-486, Mifepristone, which is otherwise known as the "day after" pill. It causes an implanted fetus to be ejected (i.e. aborted) from the female body.
This pill is "birth control" according to ObamaCare, not an "abortion pill."
That is the center of Hobby Lobby's lawsuit against the government.
ObamaCare requires ALL companies that provide healthcare as an employee benefit to pay for abortion... by requiring them to provide "birth control" via RU-486.
A blastocyst is not a fetus and if there's nothing implanted on the uterine wall then there's no abortion.
WRONG, WRONG, and WRONG.....RU486 is NOT the morning after pill. It is something completely different. And what the morning after pill would be "ejecting" would not be a foetus. Please, educate yourself or is that just too difficult for you?
RU486 is a critical reproductive health tool, ESPECIALLY because 97% of US counties have no surgical abortion clinics. You can't fight surgical abortion and then prohibit people from pursuing a non-surgical option by not covering it and call yourself a compassionate employer. It's just wrong.
Again, this comment is simply ignorance before actually reading about what RU-486 is, how it works, and what it does and does not do. It does not reject an already fertilized egg nor prevent an embryo from implanting. It works by delaying ovulation so that the sperm doesn't have an egg to fertilize. Study up and learn or simply continue to be a fool
Mifepristone is a synthetic steroid compound used as a pharmaceutical. It is a progesterone receptor antagonist used as an abortifacient in the first months of pregnancy, and in smaller doses as an emergency contraceptive.
The point people overlook is that it prevents what would turn into a fetus from attaching to the uterine wall. Now while I am agnostic, I do know that christian people typically believe that conception is as soon as the sperm enters the egg. So from their viewpoint, not yours or mine, it is still acting as an abortifacient. In this case, the government is forcing those people to choose between their beliefs and keeping their company open.
The pill isn't even that expensive, you can get it generically for 60-70 USD per pill. There are also many organizations that offer it on a sliding cost scale if you can't afford that.
You're a liar, Klintz.
This is only the beginning of this! Obamacare was rammed through the congress and the public was BSed on what was in it. I suggest everyone read the bill. Darn,... this is the era of the uninformed voter, who likes free cell phones and money from Obama's stash
Who's the uninformed voter here? That's just the kind of right-wing nonsense that LOST the election for Romney and the Repugs.
Get over it Juan. You right-wingers LOST and Obamacare is the law now.
Boo hoo, boo hoo!!!!!!
My, how uninformed of you.
Free cells phones were implemented in the 80's by Ronald Reagan's administration. Get your facts straight.
They're doing this to save money. They are not doing because of the religious conscience. Spare me. And by the way, Hobby Lobby, that's as cynical and as blasphemous as it gets. You're claiming to do something in the name of God when you are only doing it to line your pockets with cash.
The fact that the God described in the New Testament was 100% entirely about helping the poor, sick, and needy without any regard to cost or reward. More proof most Christians are unaware of their own beliefs.
Jay – You are an idiot!
I completely agree that Hooby Lobby is just trying to save money. Many many Christians use contraceptive meds. Does that mean we're not religious? Hobby Lobby, the new Christian cult.
It makes them feel less guilty about living in a mansion. Jesus lived in a mansion, right?
Regardless of their reasons, every company should have the right on whether or not they want to provide healthcare and what they want to provide healthcare for. It is up to me as an individual if I want to work there or not. Frankly, I don't believe healthcare should pay for birthcontrol. I'm a woman and believe birthcontrol should be paid by the individual and not healthcare.
corporations think they are people... a law in the late 1800's pretty much gave them personhood status.
...but guess what... now that I know their views... won't be shopping there again and from the looks of their stores not many others do either.
That's ok – They'll get my business!
Hobby Lobby doesn't just get to break any laws it feels like simply because it claims to have religion.
I don't see any laws broken, so you are right.
They can only put it off for a few more months. Then, it's over. They'll be breaking the law.
So much for the freedom of religion!
They are breaking the law if they don't comply.
Why is birth control of any form covered under insurance? Insurance is to protect from catastrophic costs, not routine stuff.
Routine stuff is critical for insurance to cover. Annual checkups are covered specifically so they don't have to pay for critical issues that would be missed otherwise.
It's in the insurance company's best interests. A child costs a lot more to insure for eighteen years than a cheap pink pill.
Would you rather pay for the child after it is born?
There are multiple types of health insurance (and car insurance and home owners insurance, etc., etc.)
No, insurance is for both preventative care AND "catastrophic" care. The whole point is that if you have insurance, then you'll be more likely to get preventative care, thereby avoiding the catastrophic care and saving a ton of money (for you and the system). Birth control is a cheap price to pay for preventing unwanted (and expensive) pregnancies.
Healthcare when totally kooky when we started thinking in terms of insurance paying everything. It should be just for catastrophic. We lost our way and rates went sky high.
Birth control isn't only used to prevent pregnancy. My wife takes it to regulate her endemetriosis.
Kay is right. There are and should be varying healthcare options and if a company isn't comfortable covering a certain service then they shouldn't be forced to.
It is not birth control, it is abortion inducing drugs. It is about religiios freedom as found in the Bill of Rights. It is about the government defining religion and religous beliefs and organazations in voilation of the Bill of Rights and seperation of church and state. It is about a hypocritical and tyranny. The employees when hired, know that Hobby Lobby and Mardell are run by Christian Principles is is a Christian employeer.
Why is the font so small? I can hardly see what I type.
Routine stuff eh? Not so routine if you were the one who was impregnated.
Why free birth control? Because Democrats believe more women will vote for them after mandating such giveaways than would be the case if they hadn't.
No business should be able to force its religious views on its employees. Period.
And no business should be forced into providing something they are against.
No person (or persons) should be able to impose its religious beliefs on companies either...
Who's doing that in this case?
No government should be able to force its religious views on its citizens. Period.
And no business has to hire you.....
Actually there is no reason the business should get any say whatsoever.
Unless you actually believe the B.S. that a business is a person.
If you are a person who doesn't believe in birth control, don't use it and keep your religion to yourself.
And why should an employee be given abortion pills for what they choose to do in bed. How about the male involved? Any responsibility for contraceptives from their pocketbooks.? They want the "pleasure" of the moment but not the responsibility. Get real! Actions do have consequences and those involved need to accept those consequences.
Too many people today have NO convictions and don't know them when they are held.
The owners of Hobby Lobby are free to find other means of income. Now these folks are ignorant as fvck, but if they really believe that by providing health care to their employees, that they are breaching their religious views, they should not be running a business.
I hear McDonald's is always looking for mouth-breathers.
Let them do what they want. It does not infringe on the rights of others. Its just abuses their religious rights. Taking away from religious rights vs. taking away to the ability to buy A certain product from ONE store. Anybody who needs it can go to a different store and nobody can tell me that hobby lobby will be the only store in town offering these products.
Did you even read the article? This is about the insurance plans offered to employees, not the products offered in the store.
911 was a hoax. You and I both know a majority of the earth's humans believe the government lied about 911 to fight their oil war with full war provisions by congressional vote.
If you say the rest of the Earth is unimportant, then what about the American citizens who have been forced to promote oil addict warfare. That seems like the worst thing to do to a human, and our government did it to mostly American citizens. The 911 dead never told their story, you just used them.
Hobby Lobby is pro-war, they should just pay their accomplice.
I know all you CNN folks diss religion but what about personal responsibility? If you want to get knocked up and abort, shouldnt it be on your own dime? Comeon now...what's next...company has to pay for your weed too?
If you want to get knocked up and have a bunch of kids, shouldn't it be on your own dime?
Ummm, contraceptives don't abort. Your comment just shows your ignorance and bias.
@Dean : ObamaCare requires companies to pay for RU-486, Mifepristone, which is otherwise known as the "day after" pill.
During the first trimester, RU-486 causes an implanted fetus to be ejected from the female body. In other words, it is an "abortion pill" more than it is "birth control."
Exactly! Take responsibility for your actions!
How about we set aside this being a religous issue. How about if the government forced you to eat desert every Saturday night when you were trying to lose weight. It doesn't matter that your overweight and you really don't want the desert, the government forces you, when it's against what you know is not in your best interest.
And I'm really beginning to understand what revolution is all about...
Would they force me to eat the Mojave desert or the Sahara?
The government isn't forcing anyone to actually utilize the contraceptives...only that they are provided for those that do wish to use them; your analogy is therefore flawed.
The government is not forcing you to eat desert. It's requiring employers to cover the insurance costs for everything, including things that they may find objectionable. It's left up to the individual and their doctor on what procedures they will do. Isn't that real freedom? You don't want the government telling the individual what they can do, right? The employer shouldn't be telling their employees what they can do as well.
Your comparison is invalid. No one is forcing anyone to "eat a dessert," i.e actually use these provisions in their healthcare insurance. The federal law simply says employees should have those benefits available to them if they choose. Owners of a public company should not force their religious beliefs on their employees.
Which drugs specifically are they trying to avoid covering? It looks like they are fighting a losing battle... they are, after all, not a church.
Has nothing to do with being a church. It having the government tell you that you have to sell a certain product(s)
Hobby Lobby is opposed to being forced to pay for RU-486, Mifepristone.
RU-486 is an abortion drug, labeled as "birth control" by ObamaCare. It causes a viable fetus to be ejected (i.e. aborted) during the first trimester.
Should a company be forced to pay for abortions?
Klintz – how long are you going to continue spewing misinformation ?
Commentators (such as Klintz) should stop claiming that "Companies" don't want to add these provisions. Companies are not alive, they have no opinions–it is the religious owners of this company who want to impose their individual religious views on their employees.
So, for the time being this company has found a loophole to subvert federal law. Tthat puts them in the same clsass as tax dodgers in my opinion. Who cares if they have bought a little time? Eventually they have to fall in line and behave llike responsible ciitizens and respect the law of the land.
No. Eventually, like tax evaders, they need to be brought to justice which can often involve more than a little time in a federal penitentiary.
There's a massive difference between tax evasion and tax avoision (avoision is a perfectly cromulent word).
It is okay to fine them, as per the law. No exemptions (to any for-profit)
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.