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.
And religion continues to tear the world apart...
Religion isn't tearing the world apart. It's the fanatics and liberals that can't mind their own business.They want to force change among things they don't believe in, can't comprehend and don't have control over.
No it doesn't. Abortion pills don't exist in nature. There are plenty of companies with no religious affiliations that did not provide abortion pills prior to Obamacare
mind their own business? Yet here you and the hobby shop are, making an abomination of what the law actually is AND not minding YOUR own business and mendling in people's lives. Hypocritical much?
BTW if Jesus ever did come back, he would take one look at you people and wonder where the hell he went wrong.
No modern medication exists in nature, its all made in a lab. Does that mean NO MEDICATION should be covered? Is that really your argument? Maybe we should just ban birth control all together and let people have 20-30 kids and get government assistance for each one because that would be much better!
Talk about some a disconnect in logic...
@what. Medication that isn't necessary for routine healthcare and is completely elective such as an abortion pill should be optional for an employer to have to provide. Traditionally they have been optional until Obamacare. My point about religion is religion didn't tear the world apart. Obamacare is what changed. Obamacare is stepping on people's toes and making them provide services they don't agree with morally or fiscally
You keep calling it an abortion pill, you obviously have no idea how it actually works. It has NOTHING TO DO and all it actually does is prevent a woman getting pregnant you fool.
You must know how idiotic you sound calling it that. Also open a history book, its littered with religion tearing the world apart. Companies don't get to have religious beliefs as they are NOT a person. They should go be a not for profit company then they would have WAY more flexibility. Cal them selves the Anti Jesus Hobby tore because there actions are exactly that.
Let's see If it "enduces an abortion" it is not preventative contraception, it is an abortion. So what would one call an abortion? abortion maybe... Companies routinely excluded such controversial /unnecessary/elective coverage prior to Obamacare regardless of religion. Companies that are privately held do get to endorse religions and do all the time. Regardless, if a company doesn't want to provide any healthcare benefits they shouldn't have to. If they don't want to cover elective proceures including abortion drugs that is fine
It does not enduce, create or otherwsie make a woman have ad abortion you tool. Learn what your even fighting about first would ya please. It PREVENTS a woman from getting pregnant. Jeesh you people don't even know what your are yelling about do you??
Oh wait let me understand, Government shouldn't offer healthcare to the citizens, businesses should not offer health care, I suppose you would have the greatest country on the face of the earth have healthcare equal to a 3rd world country. People like you and people who think like you are what is really wrong with this country and are setting us back decades with your backwards thinking.
"To remain true to their faith, it is not their intention, as a company, to pay for abortion-inducing drugs."
This is idiotic. They are not paying for abortions by providing healthcare any more than they are paying for abortions by paying their employees. What the employee chooses to do with their money/benefit is their choice. I wonder if Hobby Lobby would refuse to hire someone if they imagined the person was getting a job to pay for an abortion.
Good for Hobby Lobby, if the employees don't like it they can go work somewhere else. Jobs are SO plentiful, right? As an employer we ave a right to provide the benefits we need to in order to attract and retain the employees we want and at he same time stay true to what we believe.
thousands of businesses did not pay for abortion pills prior to Obamacare. It is Hoby Lobby's money. If someone wants to pay out of their pocket let them.
Birth control is not an abortion pill...they are 2 different things. Good grief with some if you people!!
First they came for Hobby Lobby and we said nothing, then they came for our legal guns and we said nothing.Then our freedom was taken away and ?????
You gun nuts are such drama queens.
Who took your guns? Nobody came and took mine. You may want to call the police!
ya know for a group of people who like to preach self reliance...you guys sure are a whinny bunch
Funny how quickly the government will swoop in to levy fines for this, but does nothing to businesses who hire illegal help.
Yes, the Obama administration is being VERY SELECTIVE with law enforcement.
That is, as you well know, not true. The Obama Administration is deporting twice as many illegals as Bush did.
You Conservatives think that if you make something up, it must be true.
funny how companies freely force their religious beliefs on employees but because it is CHRISTIAN beliefs it is OK.
@Bam. A companycannot force it's religious beliefs on anyone because they can't force anyone to work there. If a company wants to hold religious beliefs regardless of what religion they can legally do so. However not providing coverage for elective procedures for religious reasons is not forcing anything. An employee can opt to pay for unnecessary procedures if they want to. Nothing is stopping them from buying or using abortion inducing drugs
Amen to that!
Employees should be given the option of having a rider on their insurance policy to cover BC, and they pay the premium, which shouldn't be much. The Government has no business forcing a private company to purchase something that is against it's religion or belief.
Dumbest logic ever! So if a safety item that is required by law is somehow against a companies religious beliefs that's ok? Can we stop with all this religion this and religion that nonsense that we only started hearing once Obama took office..would ya please.
also, hate to break it to you, but birth control has NOTHING TO DO with abortion in anyway. These people are just zealots, the type of people this country and frankly, the whole world could do without!
Companies can not have a religious belief as they are not people.
They are not supplying it. They are just allowing someone who may not follow their beliefs the care they need. It's asinine to think you cannot allow birth control to be supplied to your "not christian or catholic employees" yet allow women who use it to work at your store. It's hypocrisy at it's finest. You are good enough to work for me, no matter what your beliefs. But my beliefs will affect your wellbeing and care? That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard.
Kay, the coverage for family planning is actually negative money ... a rebate if you will. If it costs someone demanding NO BCP, IUD, RU-486, etc, say $500/mth, a fellow employee "accepting" that coverage, whether they use it or not, would be put into a separate pool with a cost of, say, $480.
The reason is that family planning costs MORE than unplanned pregnancies, any pregnancies for that matter. Unplanned pregnancies are notoriously expensive as they often occur to the young, old, ill, or generally unprepared (smokers, obese, etc). Since the pregnancy occurs with no warning, the gestation occurs with no planning, and the birth statistically is more often premature, low weight, or a birth defect over a planned birth with full pre-natal care for the mother. Statistics is what sets the insurance rate for any given "pool".
The is the original offer from HHS for companies like that Lobby Hobby, could have their insurers contact employees directly, without company involvement or knowlege, and allow individuals to select such coverage if they desire (not forced on anyone). Those employees that selected (even unmarried men), would get the lower rate. Those refusing it, on principle, can pay additional monthly fees.
Thank you. Your post confirmed what I was saying.
Not only against it's religious beliefs, but simply not necessary (AKA elective) helathcare.
It actually didn't, but i'm going to let it slide and assume your reading comprehension isn't where it should be for someone your age.
@Webb Hobby Lobby has no issue providing coverage for preventive contraception. They have an issue proving coverage for abortion inducing drugs.There is nothing unreasonable about expecting employees to pay out of pocket for such an elective medication
to WHAT -- no one was talking about this before Obama came into office because businesses were not being forced to pay for things that go against their religious beliefs BEFORE OBAMA WAS ELECTED!
Business are forced to pay for stuff all the time that they have don't want too. For example minimum wage, business HAVE to pay at least that to the most basic of employees, so spare me the sob story. I suppose most of you would have us be the greatest country on earth with a 3rd world healthcare system that only the wealthy can afford and everyone else can just man up and pay for it themselves even if they can't afford it.
Business left to their own devices will SCREW you and I every chance they get if it will make them 25 cents richer. Go read a history book, get informed and stop believing all this businesses are the holy grail of capitalism.
Healthcare should not be tied to a job. Pay your employees a decent wage and let them get insurance that they think is best for themselves. This would solve a lot of problems, and bums like this couldn't pick and choose what healthcare you get.
1) Good luck getting CEO's and Owners to cut their salaries to bolster lower wages. That's been the problem since day 1.
2) Good luck purchasing healthcare even if the CEO's and Owners raise salaries, because the monopoly that is the healthcare industry will keep premiums high as long as they want. Unless someone changes that, legally.
@Webb – Plenty of companies don't offer health bet paid benefits. mine doesn't.
Stupid democrats just dont get
Don't leave us in suspense...get what?
Congratz, backwards medieval idiots. Let's keep pumping out those babies no one wants to take care of. At any given moment in this country there are 250,000 children in foster care. Screw your dusty old book with its zombie skydaddy and be responsible. Have you ever been in a US 'orphanage'? No? Those in prison for committing murder live better. Why don't you OPEN YOUR EYES?
One day you will answer for all ur evil.....you are so lost u dont even know it. Jesus loves you so much he died for u ........its not to late
No employer should be able to force their religious views on their employees. I will be boycotting Hobby Lobby. Michaels is better anyway!
I would guess most of those people having those babies have free access th healthcare, whether it's Welfare or PP. You can give them the pill or whatever, it doesn't mean they'll use it. Why should they worry about it?
Hey, I'm pro-choice! I think woman should be allowed to have as many abortions as they want! I just don't believe that OTHER people should be forced to pay for them! Why don't YOU start up a non-profit organization that donates money for abortions?
Seems, the owner of Hobby Lobby is forcing his religion on all its employees. Make them pay, and give womne respect for making their own decisions. I will never shop there again, and will let them know about it. Forcing you ideolgy against workers that make just above minimum wage is disgusting and disturbing.
Hobby lobby has not problem covering preventative contraception. They don't want to pay for abortion pills. They arent' stopping their employees from buying them with their net earnings
Txlakeboy - I would not ever expect someone to pay for anything that goes against their religion. So – are you saying let women "make their own decisions", and make sure Hobby Lobby is forced to pay for it. No one is forcing their religion on their employees. What in the world have women done all these years, going to work for Hobby Lobby, and knowing what will and will not be paid for?
Hobby store is a for profit business not and individual therefore doesn't get to say they dont want to do something because its against their religion. Hobby store IS forcing their religion on people by not paying for coverage that is mandated by law. therefore imposing their religious beliefs on every single woman employee they have. You can't be this unaware about stuff can you?
Obamacare was ripped off from Romneycare. Mitt ought to sue.
BOYCOTT HOBBY LOBBY
I'm going to make a point of shopping there from now on. Remember what happened when Chik-fil-a was attacked? Record profits!
I will boycott any employer who forces their religious views on their employees.
I just found out that Hobby Lobby has a website! I'm going to place an order right now!
I loved when all the Redneck, Right Wing, Bigots went to Chik-Fila. It outed all the uneducated fools, and on top of that most likely caused them to get fatter than they already are. It's cool, white-trash will soon go the way of dinosaurs. And hopefully religion goes with them.
@Webb – I loved the Chick Fil A support. The best part is people like you never mention that the people you make insults about did not rally behind CFA until after people lik eyou tried to boycott them.
Corporations cannot pick and choose which laws they want to obey. The House and Senate passed the law. The President signed it. The Supreme Court upheld it.
If Hobby Lobby's management cannot in good conscience obey the law, then they should resign. Hobby Lobby can then hire law-abiding management.
I wish to second your opinion. It IS the law of the land. If people dont like it Then they can try and change it. Many people are against this law and many are for it. But, as you say it is the law of the land until it is changed just the same as any other law. In particular the government forces many things down my throat that are very objectionable to me. But, if I do not obey the law I will certainly face the consequences. They have no more right than I do to flaunt the law, religious beliefs or not
I wish Hobby Lobby the very best in their efforts to restrain the overreaching arms of Uncle Sam through ObamaCare.
So can I pick the laws I want to disobey? Can everyone?
Where can I donate to help Hobby Lobby fight this?
Just buy lots of their 'Made in China' stuff.
I'll join you too. I don't think you have to donate...just make a point of shopping there.
Go to Hobby Lobby (dot com) and start buying their products online!
Just keep shopping there like my family does. My spouse is a teacher and we spend plenty of money there. Makes me feel even better about shopping there. Socially Responsible
Just one more reason NOT to shop at Hobby Lobby. This is disgusting.
How so? They wont provide abortion inducing drugs and that is disgusting?
Agreed...I wonder though, how is that, "Hobby Lobby, Inc" has religious freedom when black people didn't have souls until relatively recently? This is another example of religious people using their money and influence to opt out of the "social contract" and use their bigoted, hateful, child-raping edicts to restrict the choices of others. Hey, religious bigots, your ability to kill people who disagree with you is over...your rule is coming to an end.
Sic em' Obama! Note to self; Boycott Hobby Lobby.
"Sic em' Obama?" Wow, you are a real tyrant aren't you? You'd fit in perfect in China.
As for me, I support Hobby Lobby 100% – and I am pro-choice! I DO believe that it's a woman's right to choose an abortion – but I DON'T believe it's the duty of Hobby Lobby (or any other private business) to pay for it!
I will go out of my way to shop there! Why would anyone boycott a company for not providing abortion inducing birth control. Surely someone can pay out of pocket for that. That isn't a medicine you would ever actually need for health reasons. It is completely unnecessary to maintain your health and it is designed to kill offspring which is not only unnecessary but controversial and inhumane to many people
Good for Hobby Lobby for standing up against Obamacare, It is up to the states to handle health insurance, not the job of the federal govt.
If the federal govt can't handle Social Security, Medicare, or VA care, why should we support Obama care, they need to figure out the others first.
If Congress would not treat those programs as their own personal sluch fund, they would have the $...Congress never saw a pile of money it didn't want to steal. They robe Peter to pay Paul. Time for their ridicullous theivery to stop!
Should Christian Scientists who own businesses be able to refuse ALL health care to their employees because they believe all health care goes against god?
Yes they should be. if a company doesn't want to offer healthcare benefits they shouldn't have to regardless of religion. My company doesn't provide health benefits I purchase my own. Self employed people don't have to provide themselves with healthcare
They would just bump all employees to part-time, which is what some companies are already doing in some sense.
What would Jesus do? Oh that's right not offer healthcare to his employees so he could line his pockets more, OF COURSE how silly of me!
You guys are nothing more than a bunch of hypocrites who don't even know what your own religion stands for...you do nothing but make a mockery of it and of yourselves by coming on here and sounding the way you do
Yes, Christian Scientist should be allowed to practice their beliefs as well. If someone doesn't like what the empolyer offers for health coverage they are free to find a job elsewhere.
How can providing contraceptives be infringing on anyone's religious belief? If you do not personally believe in contraception, you do not have to receive them. But by taking away someone's choice to them, you are forcing your beliefs on someone else. It is a sad statement for a corporation to use religion to make a profit. It cheapens both the religion and the corporation.
Those seeking employment know that this is how Hobby Lobby is, and if they choose to still seek employment there, why not. It's not like our economy has gotten much better, we need to keep the successful businesses here and open so people have jobs.
A "day after" pill is not a contraceptive. The idea of contraceptives is to prevent pregnancy's... not kill them.
Exactly. Well said.
What part of 1) they're not a church, and 2) they are a for profit organization, so 3) THEY DON'T QUALIFY?? And yeah, the people know it NOW to steer clear of this organization that supports abortion in China but will not cover contraceptivesfor their own employees to AVOID one!
Many people in this country believe that "religious liberty" means "the right to force any aspect of your religious doctrine onto anyone you choose." The government keeps trying to explain to them that this is not the case, but apparently the Christian extremists are having a hard time processing it.
Sorry to hears so many think women, do not have any rights, for their own lives. Dirty, disgusting and smacks of Hilter style thinking against others that did not agree with him.
Stay strong Hobby Lobby. Your commitment to your values is inspiring.
Hobby Lobby has taken the usual corporate route to avoid complying with the nation's laws. I think I've reached the point where I will no longer patronize this anti-American company. They promote Chinese made products and therefore impact the economy of the U.S. I wonder what other laws of the U.S. they are skirting? I think a full investigation is in order.
OH RIGHT! Like you never buy Chinese goods! What a laught....
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.