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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."

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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.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Church and state • Courts

soundoff (4,609 Responses)
  1. Name*christian

    I don't think they meant to b, but they r on the wrong side of this fight. Makes me sad. Always thought the green family were intelligent folks...maybe not. They are being led like sheep to the slaughtered

    January 12, 2013 at 9:03 pm |
    • john

      .taxpayers should not pay for birth control PERIOD!!! You want to open your legs, then buy your own condoms, bc pills, diaphragm etc etc etc..or hey..just keep your legs closed. ..you lefty loon!!!

      January 12, 2013 at 9:07 pm |
    • Kiki

      Taxpayers? This about private insurance into which employees pay premiums, It is about insurance coverage and has nothing to do with taxpayers.

      January 12, 2013 at 9:14 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      john, are you married? Does your wife make love to you? If so, do you wear a rubber? I hope so, because nobody needs the progeny of stupid people running around this country, and any product of your union would surely be mentally deficient.

      Moron. Do you realize that women, married AND unmarried, use birth control for 75% of their reproductive lives because ass holes like you can't keep it in their pants or be trusted to be responsible for preventing an unwanted or unplanned pregnancy?

      How fvcking dumb ARE you?

      January 12, 2013 at 9:15 pm |
  2. optimistica

    they need to just grow up and get in the game of how life really is these days – everything isn't about the way they see things.

    January 12, 2013 at 9:03 pm |
  3. ptneely

    They are not infringing on their employees rights. You don't infringe on anyone's rights by refusing to pay for them to exercise that right. They are not stopping anyone from buying the medication in question or an abortion.

    January 12, 2013 at 9:01 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      They are breaking the law. What part of that do you fail to grasp?

      January 12, 2013 at 9:17 pm |
  4. Josh

    If Hobby Lobby doesn't like the new regulations, they should offer substantial bonuses and pay raises to employees every time they have a child. It would be refreshing to see a "family values" company actually support families.

    January 12, 2013 at 9:01 pm |
    • ptneely

      It is illegal to discriminate against employees without kids by paying higher salaries to those who have children.

      January 12, 2013 at 9:03 pm |
    • john

      there job is not to support families but to make a profit and pay people what they are worth in the market place....man...libs are so stupid...go live in france u socialist moron.

      January 12, 2013 at 9:06 pm |
    • ptneely

      John, well said.

      January 12, 2013 at 9:08 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      "Well said"? John the Brainless can't even figure out the "there/their" conundrum and you think it's "well said"? You're a stupid as he is.

      January 12, 2013 at 9:17 pm |
  5. WB

    I won't become indignant .... that is your job I suppose

    But I will say this, ... "BRING IT ON !!!!", YOU, YOUR PARTY, and I suppose, anybody else who believes they have an interest. You have nothing to fear from me personally .... BUT, I PROMISE YOU THIS! ..... to stand there and watch you die, even though I'm most likely going to die with you ..... will be vindication .... never mind, Al Quida, I look forward to watching you personally perish by your own hands .... all I want is the pleasure of watching!!!!

    January 12, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
    • optimistica

      What in the world does this have to do with anything? Sounds like the ramblings of an unstable mind.

      January 12, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
    • WB

      Suffice it to say that I won't be shopping at Hobby Lobby anytime soon :)

      January 12, 2013 at 9:21 pm |
  6. don't do crazy things

    It has been against my morals to spend money at Hobby lobby for years.

    January 12, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      It's more my sense of taste that stopped me shopping there.

      January 12, 2013 at 9:01 pm |
  7. dubrats

    do what you want/believe in...but don't expect/demand others pay for it ....got it?.....good.

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

      With this logic, insurance companies should not have to cover lung cancer treatments for people who smoked. Or diabetes medications for those who made bad dietary choices. Or physiotherapy for someone who chooses to run a marathon and hurts themselves. In fact, there are very few things that they would want to cover!

      January 12, 2013 at 9:13 pm |
  8. janicer2708

    If men were the ones carrying the babies would this even by an issue. I bet they cover the "little blue pill".

    January 12, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
    • john

      ..another bitter feminatzi....taxpayers should not pay for birth control PERIOD!!! You want to open your legs, then buy your own condoms, bc pills, diaphragm etc etc etc..or hey..just keep your legs closed. ..you lefty loon!!!

      January 12, 2013 at 9:01 pm |
  9. jon franzia

    obamacare = hitlercare

    January 12, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
    • grimreaper

      Bagger IGNORANCE is never bliss !

      January 12, 2013 at 9:03 pm |
    • grimreaper

      Bagger Buffoonery is never bliss !

      January 12, 2013 at 9:03 pm |
    • joe

      i guess that it would not be hitler care in mass-romney care – it is the same-you seem to forget that obama care is basically the same as romney care in mass-idiot

      January 12, 2013 at 9:12 pm |
  10. Ll

    99% of what Hobby Lobby sells is from China. Don't honk they have the real interests of Americans at heart.

    January 12, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
    • Ll

      'Think'

      January 12, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
    • Faisal

      Doing business with other nations is not anti-American.

      January 12, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
    • john

      99% of ANYTHING you buy ANYWHERE.....even the so called mom and pops are made overseas...u can think the unions for that...they put companies out of business demanding 30$ an hr wage to work an assembly line that takes no skill....u lefty loon dummy!!

      January 12, 2013 at 9:03 pm |
    • Inconvenient Truth

      They don't even care about humans considering a lot of the Chinese goods they sell is made by children and people working in sweatshop like conditions.

      January 12, 2013 at 9:10 pm |
  11. trumod

    They sell glue, construction paper and paint to people who sometimes use them to make pictures and items that celebrate Satan and/or other religions or even atheism. As this is contradictory to their religious beliefs, are they going to stop selling to people who don't support their religious beliefs? Seems like a double standard.

    January 12, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
    • Guest

      Private company they can sell to whoever they want don't like it don't shop there

      January 12, 2013 at 9:01 pm |
  12. Gene

    Maybe Hobby Lobby just needs to cancel insurance for everyone. Let the employees buy their own insurance. Geeze folks, get a life. It is not mandatory for an employer to offer insurance.

    January 12, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
  13. Bobinite

    Wow. You people really have a strong hatred for our Lord. Woe unto you.

    January 12, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
    • trumod

      We don't hate the Lord; just the hypocrites who use His good name to justify their unjust actions.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
    • Kiki

      “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

      January 12, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Gandhi was an ass-hole.

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

      So. Take your hatred out on an unborn child. makes sense....

      January 12, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
    • Kiki

      At issue is contraception which prevents the making of children.

      January 12, 2013 at 9:01 pm |
    • mildred

      Oh dear, Bobinite, I don't believe Lord & Taylor sells supplies for crafts.

      January 12, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
    • Faisal

      Obama is going to burn in hell and his fake christian tribe will burn along with him. America's true Christians must reject anything associated with the Obama terrorist organization.

      January 12, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
  14. jsmoulder

    As long as the USA has people like hal9001, the USA is doomed to self destruction.

    January 12, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "jsmoulder", but your assertion is a falsehood. hal 9001 is not a person. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "MASSIVE FAIL".

      January 12, 2013 at 8:59 pm |
  15. Ableza

    When will these religious asses stop trying to control everyone else's life? I so hate this kind of dogmatic imposition onto the health and well being of others. ruin your own life if your religion demands it but goddammit stay out of mine!

    January 12, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      When will these government asses stop trying to control private businesses?

      January 12, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
    • jsmoulder

      When will government stop trying to control every aspect of the peoples life's??

      January 12, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
    • Will

      While I have little use for religious nuts, isn't your statement a bit illogical as the company is simply refusing to use its money for something it doesn't want to. How is that running someone else's life? If you don't like it, don't work for hobby lobby.

      January 12, 2013 at 9:01 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Second what Will said.

      January 12, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
    • john

      yet u still want me to pay for birth control for others...u lefty loon!!

      January 12, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
  16. AlienShark

    Do you realize 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. A quick google search will shed some light on this little known but very lucrative business.

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

    January 12, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
    • Real Deal Seal Meal

      Oh get over it. Even if true, and there are no signs it is, they are totally ineffective. These forums never change anybody's opinions. CNN gets advertising clicks, and we get to mud wrestle.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
    • AlienShark

      I'm not upset about it. Honestly, as long as it is legal, I think it must be a great job. I just think the people that cannot figure it out for themselves should be aware of who they are speaking to.

      January 12, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
    • AlienShark

      Unless you are hiring in NY bro.

      January 12, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
  17. Name*christian

    The owners of Hobby Lobby and the families are truly " salt of the earth" people. David, Barbara, Mart, Randy and Darcee have all worked very hard to make a great environment for our church members to work and be in management. However, growing up all my life with them, I can't help but question who is really accelerating this fight. Lawyers? OK politicians? Church of God of prophecy elders? Something is awry. Our church specifically discourages this kind of litigious behavior. The majority of hobby lobby employees are in fact church members, if not almost EVERY person n management. With this n mind, who exactly are they anticipating is going to use the part of healthcare that provides the morning after pill??? The church members they employ? No one that the greens and I attend church with would ever admit to it anyway, let alone let that diagnosis appear on their insurance for anyone from the hobby lobby/church of God of prophecy to witness. So then this becomes something else entirely, which begs the question, is it David and Barbara Green pushing this, or another pushing their influence and opinion on them using the Green family to further push their own larger agenda?

    January 12, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
  18. socathy7

    So if this business owner wants to adhere to Sharia instead of Christian law, ya'll are cool with that? Scary and slippery slope ahead people!

    January 12, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
    • Muslim-Owned Business

      Burqas for everybody!!!

      January 12, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Sharia and Biblical law are virtually identical.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
  19. OldMo

    Legit Christians believe abortion is murdering a child so you can see why they might have a problem with being forced to pay for it. People should take responsibility for their own actions, it's part of being a grown up. If you want to kill your baby, pay for it yourself!

    January 12, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
    • Theo

      Thing is they think the morning after pill, birth control pills and probably condoms are akin to killing a child.

      I wonder how many priests wacked the golden septre and drowned millions of would be children of god down the toilet

      January 12, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
    • billy

      "Legit Christians"

      ah ha ha ha ha ha hah

      good one.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
    • Kiki

      Emergency contraception does not cause abortion.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
    • recycle1970

      Well said Billy!

      January 12, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
    • TMack

      OldMo – I don't believe in the Bible and I work for a large Christian company who benefits from many taxpayer perks. Please don't lecture on how a "company" has rights when they feed in the trough like all other companies. Hypocracy

      January 12, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
  20. Theo

    To religions around the world a woman is nothing more then an oven

    January 12, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
    • Adam

      true.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
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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.