home
RSS
January 11th, 2013
03:40 PM ET

Hobby Lobby finds way around $1.3-million-a-day Obamacare hit - for now

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."

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

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.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

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.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Church and state • Courts

soundoff (4,609 Responses)
  1. Balthazaar

    This is not a separation of church and state issue at all. There is no religious interference at all. This is a completely bogus argument, a last ditch attempt to continue the horrible health care we have suffered under instead of conceding that President Obama was right all along.

    Your health insurance isn't a gift from the boss, it is part of your pay. It is up to you to determine how you wish to spend your pay, not your boss. If this argument is valid then employees of hobby hut could not spend their paycheck to purchase condoms or birth control either. It is as bogus as just about everything we get from the extremist right wing radicals these days.

    January 12, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
  2. rad666

    Churches and houses of worship are exempt from the regulation
    =====================================================

    Which religion's bible actually states no abortions?

    January 12, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
    • Balthazaar

      And what are the requirements to become clergy at hobby hut?

      January 12, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
    • Balthazaar

      And what are the requirements to become clergy at hobby hut??

      January 12, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
    • rad666

      Balthazaar

      Since you chose to respond, which religion's bible actually states no abortions?

      January 12, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
  3. Mark

    Definitely not a fan of an organization trying to use "religious beliefs" just to get out of spending money on workers. Even if they would have everyone believe that religion was the real reason why they were fighting this, I honestly feel like they really have no standing to call suit. The organization is a business... the employees are the beneficiaries... therefore, the employees are those that are impacted by any conflict in their *own personal* religious beliefs. Surprisingly enough, if an individual employee doesn't believe in it... they don't have to use it. Doesn't relieve this multi-billion dollar outfit of their responsibility to make it available to those that would choose it for themselves as a part of their own personal healthcare decisions. This is just another sad attempt at sheltering money..

    January 12, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
  4. Balthazaar

    This is not a separation of church and state issue at all. There is no religious interference at all. This is a completely bogus argument, a last ditch attempt to continue the horrible health care we have suffered under instead of conceding that President Obama was right all along.

    Your health insurance isn't a gift from the boss, it is part of your pay. It is up to you to determine how you wish to spend your pay, not your boss. If this argument is valid then employees of hobby hut could not spend their paycheck to purchase condoms or birth control either. It is as bogus as just about everything we get from the extremist right wing radicals these days.

    January 12, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
    • KlintzCNN

      So, then by your argument, companies should not be FORCED to pay for healthcare at all.

      January 12, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
    • ptneely

      Incorrect. There are decades of case law extending the establishment clause to companies and corporations.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
    • Jim

      Does Hobby Lobby have no choice in what it covers as a private company? What if congress came up with some strangel law that said Dr. assisted suicide was legal (maybe not so strange). Would the company have to agree to pay for the drugs that killed its own employees? For those who think this is somehow about greed, think again. Hobby Lobby's costs for pregnancy, delivery, etc. is 100 times as much as a 486 pill that kills the baby. If this was only greed, Hobby Lobby would be all for the pill.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
  5. marctheduck

    Hobby Lobby are my heroes! Resist Authority! Live Free!

    January 12, 2013 at 7:53 pm |
    • Balthazaar

      Free to break the law? Free to be oppressed and ripped off by your boss? Sounds great. Freedom to be an oppressed serf with no rights. Awesome.

      January 12, 2013 at 7:57 pm |
    • myintx

      Next time I need to buy craft supplies I will shop at Hobby Lobby. FOr the one or two good things in Obamacare, the rest of the legislation is a POS.

      January 12, 2013 at 11:30 pm |
  6. Alina77

    abortion-inducing drugs ? what in the hell is this?

    January 12, 2013 at 7:53 pm |
    • erwpitewrt

      It's make-believe time in Jesustan!

      January 12, 2013 at 7:57 pm |
    • ptneely

      RU-486

      January 12, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
  7. dragonmom138

    Why does everyone use the "abortion" argument against birth control? What most birth control (including Plan B) does is make the egg never attach to the uterus or make the uterus not the perfect environment needed for a pregnancy to start. Not every fertilized egg is a fetus. On the box of every birth control I've ever seen, it has said "this will not cause a termination in pregnancy."

    January 12, 2013 at 7:53 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You're right. But trying to tell some of the mental midgets here what the facts are is futile.

      January 12, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
    • Jim

      Doesn't everyone know the difference between birth control pills and the RU-486 drug? B4 the ignorant bigots take over with their name calling, the RU 486 is specifically designed to kill a baby after implantation in the womb, up to the age of 9 weeks.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:23 pm |
  8. Betsy Hayes

    I no longer shop there. I think all of these companies that oppose health care for their employees ought to take a page from Marriott Corporation which is of course headed by a Mormon. They keep their religious views to themselves because pushing them on their employees or patrons would seriously effect the bottom line. I often stay at Marriott Hotels and I know the Book of Mormon is in the bedside nightstand but aside from that I don't feel like they push their faith on me. Places like Hobby Lobby and Chick-Fil_A need to pay attention. People who support health care that includes contraception and people who support marriage equality might not patronize their places of business.

    January 12, 2013 at 7:53 pm |
    • marctheduck

      Bigot! That sounds like how the Nazis talked about the Jews.

      January 12, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
    • Thomas

      Stop shopping there, that is your choice. That is exactly how it is supposed to work. They choose what to offer, people choose to work there, and you choose not to shop there. Done. Now you can shut the heck up. If you don't like what they offer for employment health benefits, stop giving it up to every dude that comes along. Condoms aren't that expensive.

      January 12, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
  9. FZM

    Interesting issue. On one side, we have people who want freedom of religion, (or lack thereof.) ON the other side, we have people who want... freedom of religion! While you could frame the argument around separation of church and state, it's not, really. You have one group of people saying "We deserve freedom of contraception.!" True, very true. The other group of people are saying, "You have your freedom of contraception. You just want somebody else to shoulder the burden of paying for it, in violation of their freedom of religion!"

    January 12, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
    • ron mexico

      its freedom "from" religion, not "of" religion...ja.

      January 12, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
  10. Morgan

    What if Hobby Lobby was run by Jehovah's Witnesses, whose faith doesn't permit blood transfusions? Would it be okay if they denied coverage for transfusions to their employees?

    January 12, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
    • jokiex

      For that matter, what about Christian Scientists, who don't believe in doctors at all? &-{/}

      January 12, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
  11. John/kc

    The government should get a judgement from Hobby Lobby and attach their stores and freeze their bank accounts to cover the penalty.

    January 12, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
    • VP

      The government should come into your home and take your children from you. What a stupid statement. This is suppose to be free country, it is imploding. Jesus is coming soon. Repent for the day draws near.

      January 12, 2013 at 7:57 pm |
    • marctheduck

      Yes. If you believe in a truly free society and in freedom itself then you tolerate opinions and practices that you don't agree with yourself. If you're a fascist you force your beliefs and practices on to everyone else. Because, of course, you're right.

      January 12, 2013 at 7:57 pm |
    • VP

      I'm sorry that is not the way freedom works, freedom is not about handouts, its about hard work an eithics obviously those on the dole don't understand this. .Few in this country understand that this nation will go the way of all earthly governments, read Daniel 2, the stone will soon strike the feet of the image, and the governments of the world will blow away as chaff in the wind. Time is about up.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
  12. lionlylamb

    Women have rights. They have the desires to or not to do the deed. Their desires to do the deed being done is their right. They also have the law on their side to a b o r t that which the deed being done did give them. Where then does justice come into play regarding the newly conceptualized? Who has their voices to be heard in a world full of laws meant to appease lovemaking thrills and d e n I g r a t e the unborn ones as beings of having no real literal and/or physical consequences except made by thrills to become disposed and discarded beings of uselessness?

    January 12, 2013 at 7:51 pm |
    • Common sensemom

      Your post makes no sense. You sound a little crazy.

      January 12, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      "You sound a little crazy." The understatement of the year.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:00 pm |
  13. toydrum

    Based on the wording quoted here, this should not even be an issue. Contraceptive drugs are required to be covered, but something that induces an abortion is not, by definition, a contraceptive - it is already too late for that.

    The "morning after" pill should be considered a contraceptive, not an abortifacient because, by changing the chemistry of the uterus, conception is not truly viable. A fertilized egg that is not implanted in the womb (due to the chemistry change) is not an embryo because it has no possibility of growth. I can't see how fertilization is enough, in itself, to be considered an embryo if the conditions possible for growth are not met.

    January 12, 2013 at 7:51 pm |
    • Richy Rich

      Really? A person takes something that would be a natural process for implantation for a fertilized egg which has now 46 chromosomes and is human. I find that to be abortion of a viable human life. Granted you could argue that there is a natural chance that it would not have implanted (I give you that), but doesn't excuse it from being an abortifacient.

      January 12, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
    • Jim

      Here's a little secret maybe most of the public doesn't know: RU-486 is not simply a morning after pill. It's indications are for babies (fetus) up to 9 weeks old. At this age, a baby has eyes (fully formed), ears, nose, mouth, a heart with four chambers.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:32 pm |
  14. Bob

    Religion, destroying humanity since Zunu the Moon God.

    January 12, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
    • Jim

      In this case, it's religion trying to protect humanity – the unborn.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:34 pm |
  15. Pitdownman

    If I can't dictate how they spend my money when I buy their product how is it they can dictate how their money is spent when their buy a product.

    January 12, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
  16. SusieKJ

    Glad to see so many opting to boycott.

    If you want to be anti-choice, so be it, but then don't whine and complain when we have to pay taxes to support the children. Can't have it both ways.

    And since when is birth control "abortion inducing"? Give me a break.

    January 12, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
    • VP

      Youl'll get a break soon, Jesus is coming. Repent before that day. All will acknowledge that His ways are just. It getting tougher to live in sodom and gomorrah, but the fire will fall after the 50 pound hailstones

      January 12, 2013 at 8:00 pm |
    • wmn

      True, this country seems to be on a fast tract towards Sodom. Can't blame Obama, he was voted in. The leader reflects what the majority wants and thinks. If this nation stayed on course as a republic based on the rule of Law instead of a Mobocracy (Democracy = rule by mob majority) then we would be in a totally different light. No God= Moral Decay = Judgement.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
  17. Stewart

    And while we're at it, how about drugs to help a man regrow hair? Didn't GOD mean for your hair to thin and fall out? Isn't taking drugs to grow new hair against GOD'S will?

    January 12, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
    • Jake

      That's the dumbest argument I've ever heard. hair is DEAD. who the hell cares what happens to it.

      January 12, 2013 at 7:57 pm |
    • wmn

      True. How many people you know doing God's will are taking hair growth formulas?

      January 12, 2013 at 8:01 pm |
  18. dave

    Good for Hobby Lobby. It is nice to see a family willing to suffer persecution for standing up for their beliefs. I suggest if the govt. offers them no relief, that they should either delete health care coverage or close all their locations. I will be certain to visit my local store for more craft needs now. Micheals no longer exists as my craft store.

    January 12, 2013 at 7:49 pm |
    • your to phunny

      I hope they close all thier doors as well.

      January 12, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
    • Aaron

      I am actually on my way now. I'm going to spend some spare time building a gun rack for my game room.

      January 12, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
    • VP

      Agree!!!! As did the four Hebrews in Daniel, did not bow to the image, stand strong hobby lobby. stand up to the tyranical government who want all to bow to their image. Praise God some are still faithful and obedient.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
    • wmn

      I lost your point somewhere. The first part made sense

      January 12, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
    • mike m

      test

      January 12, 2013 at 11:17 pm |
    • mike m

      Hobby Lobby cannot hold any beliefs.

      January 12, 2013 at 11:22 pm |
    • mike m

      second test

      January 12, 2013 at 11:32 pm |
    • mike m

      Hobb Lobby is an inanimate business, not a person. It cannot have a belief.

      January 12, 2013 at 11:35 pm |
  19. Josh

    A religious organization has no right to choose what to cover for health for their workers. They can advise and suggest that the employees do not use it but it is not their right to tell the employee their religious belief.

    January 12, 2013 at 7:48 pm |
    • BosephHeyden

      Employees knew what they were getting into when they applied to Hobby Lobby. Hobby Lobby did not force them to take up employment with them. Forcing Hobby Lobby to cave in isn't just that whole "freedom of religion" debate, it's empowering stupid people to do stupid things.

      January 12, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
    • wmn

      True. So why is it the gov't job to tell company's what health care to offer or else?

      January 12, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
  20. Lucy Fur

    So they will continue to pay for drugs that help men achieve erections? But they will not support women who may need this service? Yeah, that seems very Christian.

    January 12, 2013 at 7:47 pm |
    • dave

      Hard rods are lady pleasers as well. Do not pretend that is just for men.

      January 12, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61
Advertisement
About this blog

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.