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 • Faith Now

soundoff (4,609 Responses)
  1. #1Jesus_Fan

    GOD bless Hobby Lobby !!!

    I didnt even know this place existsed,but know,I know.And I'm soooooo glad they are fighting against the tyranical government regime to protect their good CHRISTIAN faith from the SATAN-In_Chief

    January 12, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
  2. demopin

    Really, why doesn't hobby lobby start chipping into tax funded hospitals that have to pay all these hospital bills for unwed poor mothers having babies then.

    January 12, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
    • Chauncy

      Women who work for Hobby Lobby have several choices. Use birth control. Don't use birth control and risk getting pregnant and manage the consequences out of your own pocket. Quit and look for employment elsewhere. Stay unemployed and use Obamacare.
      I don't see how OUR government has the right to force the owners of Hobby Lobby to finance what they consider murder.
      From a liberal standpoint, this would be like forcing NOW to finance commercials extolling the virtues of being a stay at home mom.

      January 12, 2013 at 9:10 pm |
  3. Beverly

    I guess if we want to approach it from that angle then Hobby Lobby has no right to make a personal decision based on their faith for my good. Isn't that infringing on my right to practice my religion? That makes them guilty of the same offense.

    January 12, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
  4. Jrock

    "honoring the Lord in a manner consistent with biblical principles,"
    In the early OT there's a passage that tells of a mixture for a woman to drink that will induce a miscarriage. In the NT, Christ says to render under Cesar that which is Cesar's.

    January 12, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
  5. Mike

    Permitting private employers to pick and choose what medical benefits meet their personal beliefs is idiocy. Some religions shun all medical care and intervention, some don't believe in blood transfusions or psychiatry. Access to basic healthcare, and that includes reproductive health, is a human right. Society has a stake in the health and education of its members. A healthy citizen is more apt to work and pay taxes. An educated citizen advances knowledge, innovation and economic growth. Hobby Lobby is NOT permitted to impose it's religious beliefs on it's employees. The right wing would be raising hell if Hobby Lobby only hired Jews and no Christians. Keep religion out of healthcare and the workplace.

    January 12, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
  6. Jennifer

    Hobby Lobby is NOT a religiously-affiliated store. The owners are religious and they do sell religious paraphernalia, but that does not make the business itself religious, and therefore they should not be exempt. They should NOT get to choose for their employees! And for anyone saying they choose 'life/morals' – it's not YOUR choice to make, so YOUR opinion DOES NOT and SHOULD NOT count!

    January 12, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
    • Sebastian

      When unions and muslim group got exception why not Hobby Lobby

      January 12, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
    • Air Lar

      Couldn't disagree more. It's THEIR company, and they built it into what it is – they should be able to continue to run it as they wish. If their employees don't like it, they'll leave and find a place to work that is in line with their beliefs and desires.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
    • Yourang

      Hey Jennifer, The company is a family owned business – if you don't like the policy – quit!.

      The GOVERNMENT and the bozo Obama administration don't have the "right" to compel this either . . .

      It's the choice of the individual.

      Get a life!

      January 12, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
  7. Sebastian

    Hobby Lobby pays 80% more than minimum wage. How much condom cost, go buy your own

    January 12, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
    • Sane Person

      Try again. http://www glassdoor com/Salary/Hobby-Lobby-Salaries-E7537.htm

      January 12, 2013 at 9:38 pm |
  8. Beatrix Kiddo

    Maybe the Hobby Lobby owners should read their Bibles – "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's, and render unto God that which is God's." Jesus very plainly stated that religious people still have to obey their governments laws.

    January 12, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      So those Christians who hid Jews during WWII were going against their religion, were they?

      January 12, 2013 at 8:43 pm |
    • Bill

      Yep. Jesus never said to disobey government.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
    • BibleReader

      Yes, the Bible does teach us to obey the government...except when the government attempts to force us to violate the will of God, as is the case with the owners of Hobby Lobby. Then, as St. Peter and the apostles said, "We must obey God rather than men." The owners of Hobby Lobby know the Bible quite well.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:59 pm |
    • BibleReader

      Rational Libertarian is spot on.

      January 12, 2013 at 9:03 pm |
  9. AlienShark

    You would be surprised how many "debaters" in the CNN forum are really shills working in boiler rooms taking all their talking points and arguments from papers their boss gave them.

    http://consciouslifenews .com/paid-internet-shill-shadowy-groups-manipulate-internet-opinion-debate/1147073/

    January 12, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
    • JPX

      Religion poisons everything.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
    • Zobit

      Ah crap he is on to us guys!

      January 12, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
    • Jrock

      So you link to a site that talks about "universal consciousness" and features a report by someone from Above Top Secret. Yep, I'll sure put a lot of stock in what your'e saying here....

      January 12, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
    • Sane Person

      Youd be surprised how many moronic conspiracy theorists are on comment sections.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
    • AlienShark

      you would have to be an 1d1oT to spend time on these forums ad not realize that some of these people doping this for a living. A quick google search will give you alot of insight into it, I just like this article because it is very descriptive.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
    • AlienShark

      It is not even a conspiracy, it is a business, that is like saying WalMart is a conspiracy...don't be a dummy.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
    • Sane Person

      Youd better put your tin foil hat on, the illuminati read everything you think. Now, run along and get your gun to prevent the government from oppressing you.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:59 pm |
  10. mrgmorgan56

    If religion intrudes on your life as much as the owner's of Hobby Lobby, then I suggest a differing lifestyle, perhaps purchasing a brain or maybe buy a life without the idiotic constraints of your religion.

    January 12, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
  11. jayh

    Thanks for letting me know where not to shop now.

    January 12, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
    • june

      Yup

      January 12, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
    • JPX

      Word.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
    • Anon

      You USED to shop at Hobby Lobby? Wow. How do you even afford the internet to come on here and tell us about your pathetic life? Drop your ISP and save up those pennies for that next sale on fake rocks.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
  12. Murray

    I am well past the age of birth control, but why in the world would anyone want Hobby Lobby making this decision for them. It is my body and I will answer to God, whatever my decisions might be!! Women do not need corporations meddling with tha very private and personal decision! How many unwanted children have you critics taken in to your homes?

    January 12, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      I imagine in a Christian's eyes if they provide healthcare coverage which includes abortion then they are vicariously sinning.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
    • Rae

      Amen!

      January 12, 2013 at 8:43 pm |
    • Sane Person

      Considering they 'literally' sin daily, I wouldnt sweat paying an insurance company to provide comprehensive health care to employees, being considered "vicarious sin" by "god." (who wont fine them in either case anyhow..)

      January 12, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
  13. aydon

    rules are rules, and business and religion should not be mixed (chick whats its face).
    wont shop by you.

    January 12, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
    • Shelia

      Business and Government shouldn't mix...

      January 12, 2013 at 8:46 pm |
  14. We The People, not you the business

    ?wait? ... so the company( a fake person) refuses to comply with a law, based on the company's religious beliefs, regardless of the religious beliefs of the employee (a real person and citizen)??? huh?!

    January 12, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
  15. Paul

    Always shopped at Hobby Hobby. Love this store, respect their values! Way to go Hobby Llobby! Stay strong, God is behind you and He will protect you and reword you. America is not free country anymore… too sad… it is not Obamacare it's Obama Scare...

    January 12, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
    • Scott

      yeah, you're right it isn't a "free" country anymore. Not when employers can dictate what kind of health care they'll cover in their insurance plans.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
    • dave

      **** you and **** down your throat. God doesn't exist and you will be dead in an amount of time completely insignificant relative to the universe. Your belief doesn't benefit anyone (i would stomp a fetus under my shoe for all i care) and you and people like you are merely a minor setback for humanity. you will be pushed aside and curb stomped by the progress of the rest of us.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
    • bob

      Ignorant people like you scare me more then anything

      January 12, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
    • LIz

      I think Hobby Lobby doesn't speak for God, nor does God care about Hobby Lobby. Millions of people are living on the brink of starvation and many more are suffering in refugee camps, homeless from war. Hobby Lobby's battle over birth control on insurance policies is a first world problem.

      January 12, 2013 at 9:26 pm |
  16. dharma bum

    This is not a god issue, it is not a religious issue, if it were then don't get pregnant ... if you do get pregnant and believe this crap, then you will go to hell no matter what you do .. get over it ! This is about society paying for your, both male and female, stupidity .. so far religious beliefs have worked .. 0 %.

    January 12, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
  17. Zwei Stein

    Does Hobby Lobby also withhold that portion of their tax bill which supports the DoD? Or is killing the living OK with their biblical principles?

    January 12, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
  18. June

    No more shopping there.

    January 12, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
  19. w5cdt

    Hobby Lobby wants to force it's religious views on its employees. Nice going.

    January 12, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      And Obama wants to force his left wing agenda on Hobby Lobby.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
    • Harvey

      Rational, you seem to think that an unregulated business will behave in a moral, socially acceptable way. Did you not notice what happened when a deregulated banking industry created bad loans and disastrous mortguage-backed derivatives? When the government privatized war and hired Blackwater? The shenanigans at Enron?

      Government is nothing wonderful, but corporations will pillage the land if it were not for law and government. Business has never proven able to act decently without a big stick hovering over them.

      That's the part of libertarianism that I just can't accept, though it has other ideas that are very interesting.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:43 pm |
    • Scott

      Rat Lib, if you think Obama has a left wing agenda, it just goes to show how ridiculously far right YOU are. Obama's agenda has been right of center from day one by historical standards. Requiring employers to provide health insurance and not impose their religious views therein is NOT a left wing idea.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      I don't care whether they behave in a moral or socially acceptable way.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      I'm not right wing. Most libertarians transcend the whole political 'wing' thing. I support the maximization of social and economic freedom, I don't know which wing this puts me on.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
  20. Bob

    Pay for your own condom or $4 bill control pill at Walmart. Don't make me pay for it.

    January 12, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
    • w5cdt

      Yeah...and while you're at it...what about the 20% of Americans that smoke? Why should I pay for their cancer bill?

      January 12, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
    • Bob is a dingbat

      You aren't paying for it, and neither is HobbyLobby. It's part of the employee's pay package, reimbursement for their work.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
    • Bob

      Then let comany decide what they will cover, not the government. Employees can work somewhere else that included condoms and $4 Walmart birth control pills.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
    • Murray

      You would rather pay for an unwanted child for 18 years? Not to mention the hell the child will go through!!M

      January 12, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
    • Reason

      wow Bob are you really that stupid?

      January 12, 2013 at 8:43 pm |
    • Harvey

      Do you really want your company to decide what medical care you get, Bob? IWhat you are suggesting is a REALLY BAD IDEA.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
    • Bob

      Give me a break. Whine that you choose not to use a condom and have a kid, because my insurance wouldn't pay for it. America has become a land of losers.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
    • janicer2708

      the young ones that go to Walmart don't buy condoms, they steal them..........only the ones to old to have a baby are paying for them

      January 12, 2013 at 8:48 pm |
    • LIz

      So you won't pay 4 bucks for a condom but Viagra for unmarried men isn't a problem, right? Or propecia for male pattern vanity – I mean, baldness? How about diabetes drugs for their gluttony, or medical care for liver disease caused by alcoholism?

      Real smooth picking on women, birth control is used for a wide range of issues that have nothing to do with contraception. I used it in high school for ovarian cysts and I was a virgin at the time. You have zero right to get in between the care my doctor provides for me because you decide to be selectively religious against women.

      January 12, 2013 at 9:31 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

Post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.