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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. lionlylamb

    The practices of drug induced abortions is individually wanted, doctor-assisted, governmentally controlled democide.

    January 13, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Go boink your brother some more and then you can tell us all about abortion.

      January 13, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Tom,

      Although brother and I live together, we are quite content in our living arrangements. Like I said before, my brother has not worked in 5 or so years and I have been brother's sole provider in paying our bills. I live for my brother's sakes and do not give a hoot what you say in your ranting raves meant to berate me or my brother in our loving relationship. What brother and I do is not up for your vainness idiocy to demonize.

      January 13, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You support your alcoholic brother because you abused him when he was a kid. You have no business judging ANYONE, you pervert.

      January 13, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Tm,

      Childhood fantasia of brothers in youth induced infidelities may never be reconciled especially by the abhorrence of others ranting raves.

      January 13, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You are a pedophile. You abused your brother. You have no business judging anyone else's morals or behavior.

      January 13, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Had your sibling been female, you could have caused a pregnancy resulting in the birth of a baby. You are not qualified to judge girls or women as slu ts, when you yourself are one.

      January 13, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Tom,

      Brother and I have come to terms regarding the past and we love each other and I will bend over backwards to keep us both afloat in trying times. We have been living together for some 10 or so years and yes my brother drinks alcohol and yes, I on occasion support his drinking habit. Our brotherhood is what counts, not no ranting ravings coming from people who care very little about our family conditions that brother and I face daily. You Tom, are one sick puppy by attempting to use issues against others whose only harm was in coming clean!

      Brother and I love each other and no God damned people such as your likes will ever get between us! We are family and brother and I stick up for each other thru thick or thin!

      January 13, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
    • Erock

      And just before you and your brother (and mother) lived together, you were born.

      January 13, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Don't give a rat's patootie how your rationalize your criminal behavior. You're a pedophile, whether you or your brother acknowledge it or not, and you have no business judging women or girls. None. You are guilty of the exact same behavior you condemn in females. You just didn't get caught, more's the pity. You should be incarcerated.

      January 13, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      LL, you're a disgusting pervert. You sit on your azz, day after day, calling women and girls "sl *uts" for doing nothing more than having s3x, when you committed a crime by abusing a sibling. You are a hypocrite. You should have been inst itutionalized permanently for your crimes and your aberrant behavior. You are not qualified to call ANYONE a sinner for ANYTHING.

      January 13, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Tom

      Your "what if" scenarios are just that, if's. You have no idea what the issues of our childish youths were and your calling me a pedophile is showing you to be a dumb twit! Brother and I have long ago reconciled and in hindsight we love each other today. Your desires to lay blame and rant and rave on and on is telling me that you yourself might have childhood issues of your very own shamefulness. Are you Tom, hiding issues of your youth? I'd dare to bet you are!

      January 13, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Tom,

      I've repented from my life's wrongs and do no more acclimate towards such vile acts. Am I guilty of past done deeds? Yes I am. I have been sentenced by God to die a death due my past wrongs and no amount of penance can right my wrongs done. Are you Tom hiding away a youthful secret of childhood woes regarding wrongly done issues? I'll bet my bottom dollar you are!

      January 13, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Then you lose, big time, you loony lump. I NEVER committed an atrocity like yours.

      You have no call to judge ANYONE else, least of all some kid who made a mistake and needs to get emergency contraceptives to avoid making that mistake into a disaster. SHAME ON YOU for judging ANYONE else after what you did.

      January 13, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
  2. hairy_fedd

    Order your supplies online. You could even do it from a smartphone.

    January 13, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
  3. chicadow

    There is a new store opening next to Hobby Lobby's for its pious supporters called "Adoption Option." You can pick out a kid for every birth control pill that wasn't taken.

    January 13, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
  4. jnail7

    Next up...Johovis Witness owned companies dropping insurance coverage for any procedure that requires blood tranfusions.

    January 13, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
  5. Connie Scribner

    Religious beliefs of the business owners shouldn't be forced on their employees. I won't be shopping at Hobby Lobby for my online business anymore – my religious beliefs don't allow me to support bigotry.

    January 13, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
    • ckiecrumb

      I couldn't agree more!!

      January 13, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
  6. thinksense1

    Aside from the few that use contraceptives to treat other problems what is the problem with paying for it with take home pay? I buy my own so that way I can buy the kind that I like not what govt will only pay for.

    January 13, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
    • kvan

      Didn't you get the memo? Everything is free now! That's why my insurance premiums have gone up 150% in the last 3 years. Somebody asked me after the election "aren't you happy that you don't have to pay for your birth control?". Yeah, that $10 a month was really killing me, so glad I get to pay $200 more in premiums.

      January 13, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I call bullish!t. Your insurance has not increased by 150%, liar.

      January 13, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
  7. Scottish Mama

    As a crafty person, no more Hobby Lobby. boohoo. Wanna start a revolution, Made in America only.

    January 13, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
  8. Julie

    This store is creepy anyway. Boycott hobby lobby it you think the are trying to ram their religious views up your nose. I know I will.

    January 13, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
  9. mike

    Religious belief is merely some peoples' way of ignoring both the realities and responsibilities of life.

    January 13, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
    • kvan

      Ha ha ha. Who's is ignoring the responsibilities of life? Perhaps the moron who didn't take birth control? Who would've thought the day would come when you demand your boss pay for your abortion.

      January 13, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
  10. Mr. T. Bag

    F*** Hobby Lobby... Everything they sell comes from China. They clearly have no respect for their employees, nor the United States of America...
    Their CEOs simply want to lie, cheat and steal their way to the top, like common CORPORATE MAFIA THUGS.
    We will never shop there again. –Corporate Taliban Fascists...

    January 13, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
  11. Vomarian

    Hobby Lobby is a business, not a religion. Time to take our business elsewhere.

    January 13, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
  12. John Cram

    Next: Hobby Lobby decided due to religious beliefs their health care will no longer provide benefits to treat cancer.

    Screw Hobby Lobby and every other clown that masks things with "religion"...

    We put people in the asylum if they talk to imaginary people, we unless they are talking to "Jesus" then its OK.

    January 13, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
  13. Charlie Murphey

    It is their right as a business to do it any way they want. Do not buy from them if you are not agreeing with their practices. That is the reason most places do not air their views on their website.
    If they do things right reward them, if they do it wrong, punish them but ignoring them.
    I wish this country would leave the path they tarted back in the 90's with political correctness, that began this mess.
    We became a great country by not allowing a government to tell us what we can and cannot do as a country, as states.
    Now we are taking our orders from the rich, the mighty and the federal government.

    People, it is time.

    Time to reclaim America.

    Time to stand up.

    January 13, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
    • John Cram

      Ya- Hillbillies unite! Take back this country... what an idiot comment. It is called the "law" not "do whatever you like".

      January 13, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      YEAH! Let's go back to 7-day-workweeks! Child labor! Unsafe working conditions! No health care at all!

      Idiot.

      January 13, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
  14. Seyedibar

    This won't save their failing business. Every pro artist I know will avoid their store like it's a Nazi mattress outlet. Out of 7 local stores, only one has survived the last two years of business and it looks like they've probably just cost themselves the last store too.
    .

    January 13, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
  15. JJ

    Hypocrisy Lobby did not avoid anything. They simply postponed the inevitable smackdown.

    January 13, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
  16. Patriot

    And we continue to avoid Hobby Lobby.

    January 13, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
    • Chase

      Oh nice, thanks for announcing this to the world and to the President :-D Who is likely going to revise it now.

      January 13, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
  17. nicthalon

    A COMPANY cannot have a religion! The people running it can be any religion they want, but the COMPANY has to comply. The people working there, due to religious beliefs, can choose not to take advantage of the coverages they object to, but religion is a personal choice, and until I see a Hobby Lobby store walking into a church, I'm not buying the "Hobby Lobby is Christian" line.

    January 13, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
    • Charlie Murphey

      Corporations are people silly, they can have a religion.

      January 13, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
    • Scottish Mama

      I believe we now have businesses that are people in the goverments eyes.

      January 13, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
    • John Cram

      B I N G O

      ************************************************************ EVERYONE TAKE NOTICE************************************************

      **************************************** INTELLIGENT COMMENT ALERT ***********************************************************

      January 13, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
  18. roundtheglobesurfergirl

    Dear Hobby Lobby, nytewind (below) and others: Please educate yourselves on the birth control pill and reasons it's prescribed which can be for MEDICAL TREATMENT purposes OTHER than to prevent a pregnancy!!!!! As a woman I find it offensive that the pill falls into the "abortion-inducing" drug category by the religious freaks that can't even bother to educate themselves enough to know that the pill is prescribed for treatment of uterine conditions such as: Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, Endometriosis, and in cases where a woman has a strong family history of ovarian cancer, etc., OTHER THAN TO PREVENT A PREGNANCY!!!! Wake up people! Do your homework! This is 2013 not 1813!!!

    January 13, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
    • thinksense1

      As a woman I find it offensive that they cannot articulate that to their employer. Aside from that there are other alternatives and relying on one particular item is not the way to prevent those sorts of cancers.

      January 13, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      And those would be what, exactly? Do impart your medical wisdom. Don't hide your brilliant light under a bushel, dear.

      January 13, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
  19. jerrylax

    there are a lot of businesses avoiding obama care...cutting hours and etc... what an anti-job mess.

    January 13, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
    • Patriot

      Luckily far more support it than the few who oppose it. Finally, a start towards rational health care in the USA thanks to Obama.

      January 13, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Patriot is correct. If you have any sources to cite that back up your claim, jerrylax, cite them. I think the only info you have is from pulledoutofyourassdotcom

      January 13, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
    • John Cram

      Why didn't someone tell me they changed the Faux News URL? [pulledoutofyourassdotcom]

      January 13, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
    • mike

      I'll bite: Let's see what you have on businesses that are shutting their doors early to avoid obamacare. I'd love to learn more about this important information that only you know about.

      January 13, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Ha to John Cram.

      Funny, but all I see from jerrylaxative is crickets chirping.

      January 13, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
    • Scottish Mama

      @Jerryl- this is not new, companies like Walmart have been hiring part time people for years so they do not have to pay their insurance premiums, it has nothing to do with Obamacare, it does have to do with the greedy though.

      January 13, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
    • Scottish Mama

      @Jerryl- is your last name Koch?

      January 13, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
  20. Tom

    I've known people who have applied to work at hobby lobby, one was turned away. The other was hired, then fired almost immediately after.
    The reason they said, was because they were Jewish. Coming from most people, i normally wouldn't buy into that story discrimination. After hearing about many other forms of religious discrimination from this company, I now certainly would.

    I don't care if this company was founded with strong religious beliefs by it's owners. They have a right to practice their religion, their way. They do not have a right to force their views and beliefs on their employees.
    As much as I enjoy shopping at their store, as it's the only art supply store in town, i really hope they get hit hard and learn a good lesson from it.

    January 13, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
    • Scottish Mama

      Really a religious organization promoting racism and not accepting others? lol How godly.

      January 13, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
    • hairy_fedd

      Fortunately, if you have a computer, they are NOT the only supply store in town. Order your supplies online.

      January 13, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
    • Jack

      It's your choice. Just like its hobby lobby's choice. The government has no right in mandating what should be covered. No one is forcing you to shop at hobby lobby.

      January 13, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
    • Scottish Mama

      Actually Jack they a corporation should not mandate what an employee uses for medical purposes.

      January 13, 2013 at 1:01 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.