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. Chris

    A person has religious beliefs. Not a Corporation. And IF they did, walking through their stores you wouldn't find the shelves packed with goods made exclusively in CHINA! The 'religion' in China is overwhelmingly Atheist (Over 53%) followed by Taoism and Buddhism. The Christian Faiths squeak in at less than 4%...

    Moreover, abortion in China is legal and along with universal healthcare, is a government service available upon request, as is access to virtually any form of contraception.

    By buying their knickknacks and widgets from China, they are paying into the health insurance plan of the most populous and PRO CHOICE country in the world!

    January 12, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
    • are122

      The US averaged 914 abortions per day in 2011. I wonder who's winning, China or the US.

      January 12, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
    • 4sanity

      Excellent point.

      January 12, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
    • Jim

      @are122, where did you get your numbers? Just wondering....

      January 12, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
  2. john

    A corporation can have a religion? BS At some point in time all this religious stuff has to stop.

    January 12, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
    • are122

      At some point people that bow to politicians that refuse to accept what they dole out on the people has to stop.

      January 12, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
    • todd

      At some point you have to stop playing your video game too

      January 12, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
  3. Amysue

    Yay for Hobby Lobby! I will patronize them for standing up for life and bucking Obamacare

    January 12, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
    • colleenbrickman@att.net

      YAY!!!!! I AM WITH YOU :00) I don't think it is called preventative medicine

      January 12, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
  4. BubblySoup

    "because of the COMPANY religious objections"... what if it's against the religious choosing of one or many of the employee.... A company is a company, religious stuff should have nothing to do with it.
    Outrageous !!!

    January 12, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
    • are122

      So how did all those unions get out of it?

      January 12, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
    • Alex

      They can work else where. You forget that corporations are owned by people, but I guess you wouldn't mind letting them rot on the side of the road. Hypocrite.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
  5. mike johnson

    ... Atlas is shrugging .... exciting times

    January 12, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
  6. m

    Hobby Lobby is a very creepy company...almost as bad as CNN!

    January 12, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
    • MEC

      This is a privately held company. Government needs to stay out of our choices be it religion or health care. What is wrong with the 51% of Americans that voted for this government again? We now deserve what we will be getting. The older generation voted due to their greed to keep what they have coming and the younger generation voted to get what they think they deserve since being born and are clearly lazy. The middle class ran this company, we are now screwed – who will run it now – OBAMA? You all deserve what you get. Hobby Lobby – stand your ground! As a country we clearly did not.

      January 12, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
  7. Tom

    How is it a corporation has a "faith"? A corporation exists only on paper. Correctly stated, this is David Green's beliefs and David Green will reduce his employees and or their hours to support his bottom line. The Greens have a good thing going, paying their employees $13/hr while they pulled in $2+ billion in 2011.

    January 12, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
    • H

      Have you never heard of being an entrepreneur ? what do you think built this country? If one does not like it, they know up front the company is faith based – go elsewhere to find a job and fyi – $13 in this economy? dont sneeze at that since min wage is only $7. Roll off your left side to take a look at the whole pic

      January 12, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
  8. TEHb

    Where can I donate money to this company? If laws of the land are unbiblical, we should not comply! They are awesome! This country is under GOD!

    January 12, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
    • jdoe

      You have a lot in common with Islamic extremists.

      January 12, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
    • Dan Hollander

      Its under whoever you feel actually, not just god

      January 12, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
    • Carol

      Whose God? We have religious freedom in this country.

      January 12, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
    • 4sanity

      The laws of this land have never been biblical. They are secular. And a good thing too. Otherwise, I suggest you immediately stop typing and turn off your computer "lest you be righteously smote down by the wrath of a vengeful God for not obeying the Sabbath as a day of rest."

      January 12, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
    • Jim

      Since when are we a Religious Oligarchy? I you want to live in a coutrry ruled by religion, move to Iran, or Syria.

      January 12, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
  9. Shannon

    A person has religious beliefs. A company is not a person, therefore can not have religious choice. If the owner holds this religious choice, then he also has the choice to sell the company who will follow the law. I am tired of these business trying to look for bull**it religious views.

    January 12, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
    • are122

      So why are all the politicians and many unions successfully exempted from it? Religion? I kinda think not. They simply won't accept what the peons fall for.

      January 12, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
    • Alex

      A company is owned by a person or persons who are selling a product...so you would follow any law no matter what?

      January 12, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
  10. Tom Gregg

    No more model rockets for me!

    January 12, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
    • DC

      No big deal. You liberals will eventually find a way to push for a ban on model rockets anyway. It'll just be one more regulation to be pushed down onto people which you can celebrate.

      January 12, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
  11. John Illinois

    Good for Hobby Lobby. Who would have ever thought the liberal activist justice appointed by Obama would reject an appeal regarding this garbage Obamacare that most people do not want.

    January 12, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
  12. atheistprophet

    Here's a new hobby to try: boycott hobby lobby. This company is an avaricious, ethics-challenged purveyor of christian fundamentalism in the guise of good ol' American capitalism. They are as evil as wal-mart and they do not deserve our patronage. Let them know this by patronizing ANY other crafts establishment.

    January 12, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
    • John Illinois

      How did that work out for you regarding Chick-fil-a? I enjoyed one of their sandwiches today and the place was overflowing with customers.

      January 12, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
    • debra

      I will not be shopping there again.

      January 12, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
    • are122

      A person that accepts a mandate from a government that personally rejects it. You are a true Sheeple.

      January 12, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
    • A. Renee

      Of course, finding a legal loophole is not a sneaky tactic that a religious man would ever use, right? He is such a hypocrite! I hope the government takes them and their religious freakazoids down!!! It's a company, NOT a church, and they have to live by the law of the land. If they can't do that, then they are free to leave and take their ridiculous so-called values with them. Or they can pay the penalties until they run their company into the ground. Either way, they're toast. I couldn't be happier.

      January 12, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
    • John Illinois

      A. Renee....Or just hire employees that agree with their values. Or, do not provide insurance and let the employees enjoy that lovely Obamacare c r@p.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
  13. colleenbrickman@att.net

    Hobby Lobby is the best store EVER!!!! If you don't like freedom and liberty then don't shop there or come into this country.

    January 12, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
    • jdoe

      How about you try to make me leave?

      January 12, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
    • debra

      What about the "liberty and freedom" of the employees? They also pay for the coverage, not like they get it free.

      January 12, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
    • Jane

      The Affordable Health Care Act is the law of the land. If you don't like it, you can leave the country. But those of us who believe in complying with the law shouldn't be told to leave our country. If you want to live in a country ruled by a religion, you should leave, not us.

      January 12, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
    • AndyR

      @Deb: Company is not forbidding it's employees from buying whatever drug they want, only they will not pay for it. so there is no infringement of the employee's freedom.

      January 12, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
  14. choice

    Simple solution Hobby Lobby lets the employee bear the full cost of the health insurance, that way Hobby Lobby won't be paying for something they don't believe in.

    January 12, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
    • jdoe

      That would necessitate a form of universal health care, something that the people who support Hobby Lobby are against for some reason.

      January 12, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
    • choice

      doesn't require universal health care, employer's that have so many employees are supposed to provide access to a health care plan but the law doesn't say they have to pay any of the costs of it

      January 12, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
  15. Bryan

    Not that I would shop at this dump...but add it to the list of places to avoid. It will be a great day when organized religion disappears from this earth.

    January 12, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
    • are122

      Stalin and Mao Zedong tried. Maybe you can do better.

      January 12, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
  16. Sebelius

    I definitely will shop more at Hobby Lobby. Somebody needs to challenge this bogus mandate.

    January 12, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
  17. tellobamahowitis

    Way to go Hobby Lobby. Close your doors. Put the employees and the IRS on the street. If enough business would do this they have no choice but to change that POS law

    January 12, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
  18. are122

    I think every American should have the right to exempt themselves from anything the people in government force on them while exempting themselves.

    January 12, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
    • colleenbrickman@att.net

      Thank you!!!!! Great comment. We can't allow government to dictate everything

      January 12, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
    • Ron D-

      You absolutely do! Just get out of the country and quit using the resources we citizens provide for everyone here. A country is a community where we share some of our wealth for the common good. It makes us stronger and more prosperous. If you don't want to join in, get out.

      January 12, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
    • John Illinois

      Ron D. Way to go!!! Spoken like a true socialist! France, Venezuela, Cuba, etc are calling for you.

      January 12, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
    • Jane

      Wow, what an idea. Hmmm, i am going to exempt myself from paying taxes for the wars i don't believe in and i also think i will exempt myself from those pesky speed limits.

      January 12, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
  19. jdoe

    How about a business owned by a Jehovah's Witness that does not cover blood transfusion because of their religious belief? How about a business whose owner believes that faith healing is the only right health care option?

    The people who agree with Hobby Lobby should support universal health care then. People's health care should not be dependent on where they work and what their employer decides for them.

    January 12, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
    • Smart Potato

      Agreed... what's next? "We will NOT provide insulin for employees who drink soda"?

      If I worked there, I'd sue them right back for discriminating against my uterus.

      January 12, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
    • Mona

      Kinda sad a company can force their religeous views upon their employees but then again companies are people too. Isn't that what the USSC decided?

      January 12, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
    • JustAgirl

      Excellent point.

      January 12, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
    • Robble

      YES!!! YES!!!! YOU UNDERSTAND!!!!!
      Thank you jdoe!!!!!

      January 12, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
    • Jeff

      Agree. Since when do we pick and choose what policies with which to comply based on our "religious" beleifs? By that logic, if I own a business and have a religious belief that Asians are inferior, then I should be able to discriminate against them in my compensation, hiring or service practices. What if I do not beleive in medicine of any kind? You can't run a society that way. For the life of me, I still cannot believe how ridiculously contentious the notion of mandatory health coverage has become. It's hard to imagine anything more fundamentally important than health care.

      January 12, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
    • mike johnson

      .. logically a valid point ... unless you differentiate between issues that are illness related and those that are a matter of convenience. I do not think anybody, at least not I ... argue that birth control should not be available ... only that I should not have to pay for it for other folks. If we cannot cut something like that, how are we ever gonna be able to get the country's finances under control.

      January 12, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
  20. Terry421

    It would be nice to hear from employees. Does Hobby Lobby offer generous maternity care and ample maternity leave as part of their benefits package? How long do you have to work there before you get benefits. Is it safe to assume that a large percentage of the employees are women? Regardless, I have no interest in shopping there.

    January 12, 2013 at 6:34 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.