December 27th, 2012
07:20 PM ET
Hobby Lobby faces millions in fines for bucking Obamacare
By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
Washington (CNN)– Craft store giant Hobby Lobby is bracing for a $1.3 million a day fine beginning January 1 for noncompliance with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, dubbed Obamacare.
The company opposes providing some contraceptives to employees through its company health care plan on religious grounds, saying some contraceptive products, like the morning after pill, equate to abortion.
After failing to receive temporary relief from the fines from the Supreme Court, Hobby Lobby announced late Thursday through its attorneys 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.
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"All they're asking for is a narrow exemption from the law that says they don't have to provide drugs they believe cause abortions," Hobby Lobby attorney Kyle Duncan, a general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, told CNN affiliate KFOR in November. "Our basic point is the government can't put a corporation in the position of choosing between its faith and following the law."
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 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."
In the face of that opposition, the Department of Health and Human Services tweaked its original rule in February to require health insurers, not employers, to cover the cost of contraception coverage, reasoning that would prevent religious groups from having to finance such coverage. Critics have argued that exemption for nonprofits is far too narrow and a host of nonprofit religious groups have sued the administration over the regulations.
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.
The Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 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. The company's attorneys say January begins a new health care plan year for Hobby Lobby and that excise tax from the IRS would amount to $1.3 million a day.
Hobby Lobby is owned 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. Each year the company also takes out full-page ads in numerous newspapers proclaiming its faith at Christmastime and on Independence Day.
The store is not formally connected to any denomination, but the Green family supports numerous Christian ministries and is behind the Green Collection, one of the largest private collections of biblical antiquities in the world. The family plans to permanently house the collection in Washington at a museum set to open in 2016.
On Friday, attorneys for Hobby Lobby petitioned the Supreme Court to intervene and provide temporary relief from the the fines until the case was decided by the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.
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Wednesday evening, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who handles emergency appeals from the 10th Circuit Court, said the company failed to meet "the demanding standard for the extraordinary relief," and that it could continue to pursue its challenge in lower courts and return to the higher court, if necessary, after a final judgment.
"Hobby Lobby will continue their appeal before the 10th Circuit. The Supreme Court merely decided not to get involved in the case at this time," Duncan said in a statement.
A spokesperson for the Justice Department declined to comment on the high court's move.
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.
"It's just so sad that Hobby Lobby is facing this choice. What company, even a successful family owned business like Hobby Lobby, how can they afford the government $1.3 million in fines every day? It's just really absurd that government is not giving on this," said Maureen Ferguson, a senior policy adviser for the Catholic Association. Religious liberty groups like hers are watching the Hobby Lobby case closely.
"I am optimistic that these cases will eventually snake their way back up to the Supreme Court and given a full hearing on the merits of the case, I am confident that the Supreme Court will rule in favor of religious liberty," Ferguson said. "But in the meantime there is serious damage being done to businesses like Hobby Lobby and nonprofit charitable organizations."
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.
After this piece of the law went into effect in August, religious nonprofits were given "safe harbor" of one year from implementing the law. "In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences," Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, said in January when the administration announced the move.
Dolan's New York Archdiocese won a victory this month in its legal battle against the administration and the mandate. In May it sued the government in federal court in Brooklyn over the mandate, saying it "unconstitutionally attempts to define the nature of the church's religious ministry and would force religious employers to violate their consciences."
The government moved to have the case dismissed. On December 4, Judge Brian M. Cogan denied the government's motion to dismiss the case, saying the government's promise of changes to how it will implement the law were not enough to merit dismissal. "There is no, 'Trust us, changes are coming' clause in the Constitution," Cogan wrote in in his decision to let the case proceed.
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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.
Religious liberty obviously has its limits. If Hobby Lobby's owners believed the races should not mix (a common conservative Christian belief for many centuries), that doesn't give them the liberty to hire only white people. If they believed married women should not work outside the home (another long-time Christian belief), that doesn't give them the liberty to fire female employees who marry. If they don't believe in modern mental health care treatments, a la Religious Science, they don't have the liberty to deny their employees mental health care coverage. If such things are more important to the Green family than being a law-abiding part of American society, then they can always sell their business to someone more willing to respect the legal rights of employees.
And fortunately most reasonable people understand the difference between discrimination and murder so this has never been an issue until now.
Despite your prodigious honker, I would still vote for you for any office you choose to hold, well said.
Mostly right Smoosh, access to mental healthcare is not a right and not protected as your other two examples
If I was the CEO I would stop providing healthcare to employees and start chopping full time positions and replacing them with part time.
Hobby Lobby already does this and has for years. They routinely deny full time positions and permanent status to employees and have them work long shifts. Thier employees are being very vocal on sites that watch employers and working conditions. "Religion" is only thier cover story. Thier real motivation is profit. (Even tho the cost of contraception is negligible and the cost of covering births and 18 years of children's health far, far exceeds it)
If I was your employee or client, I would stop working and shopping at your stores. We should stop supporting corporations that try to infringe their religious believes upon others. This is a secular country and if you are going to make business in this land you have to comply with laws and regulations.
A BUSINESS should have no say in the personal lives of its employees, as long as the employees' behavior does not directly affect the business' corporate image or bottom line. By stating that it equates contraceptives with abortion, Hobby Lobby is effectively dictating that its employees not use contraceptives (or at least, strongly discouraging their use), which IS interfering with the employees' personal lives. The company executives' religious faith does not give them the right to discriminate in employment matters.
You're completely wrong. Your logic is terribly flawed. The company doesn't want to pay for something they disagree with. In no way are they stopping people from purchasing the morning after pill. They just expect people to do it with their money not the company's money.
Bob, the company isn't paying a dime for the morning after pill. There is no difference in the cost of employee health care coverage for a plan covering contraceptives and one that doesn't. In fact, it's much cheaper for the insurance companies to pay for birth control than to pay for child birth and 18 years of child health care, so insurance companies are eager to cover contraceptives.
> You're completely wrong. Your logic is terribly flawed. The company doesn't want to pay for something they disagree with. In no way are they stopping people from purchasing the morning after pill. They just expect people to do it with their money not the company's money.
A couple of points.
First of all, the company is buying a package that is required by law. They do not get to pick and choose what they can and cannot purchase. Just like how they cannot choose what taxes to pay.
Second of all, the company does pay for things they don't believe in with their tax money. Stem cell reserarch, naughty education for children (including the pill and condoms) and funds to defend abortion from legal challenges.
Lastly, it's not their money. This is a defacto tax. They don't have an option not to buy it.
So Hobby Lobby's position is "we pay taxes that do things we don't like, but we're not going to pay a single tax that doesn't do something we don't like."
know if a business would tell me what to do then I'd be out of work living on unemployment and then welfare most of the rest of my life. What the heck this is not China....This is the UNITED STATES! It is ok if a person wants a company to pay but other wise NO! I do know some of these young kids that have 3 kids of their own and then now having another child. Now that is crazy never married and living off of our tax dollars. SO then I think if they want spayed then that is ok. LOL! I would hope that even though owned by Christians that the hoby Lobby is not forced to close as it is a pretty big place and a lot of people would loose their jobs. I'd say just Chill no one can make a person give up children! or stop having them.Come on as I said we are not living in CHINA
Condoms are available over the counter for less than 40 cents each. Make the Pill (type dependent on doctor’s evaluation) available over the counter and there will be no more debate. Planned Parenthood can offer deep discounts for those who say they cannot afford said protection. Ditto for the morning after pill which I believe is available OTC for women over seventeen.
Or better yet, put a pack of condoms and a box of Pills in cereal boxes. Unfortunately, that would not ensure the condoms and/or Pills would be used. Based on Guttmacher Insti-tute data, said condoms and/or Pills are currently not being used as they should. (one million abortions/yr and 19 million cases of S-TDs/yr because either the daily Pill was not taken or a condom stayed in the pocket.)
Maybe selling Pill-enriched sodas??? Hmmm?
Condom-fitted briefs for men?? Hmmm?
The door is open for other ideas!!!
These people can claim that drugs that don't cause abortion do cause abortion 'til the cows come home. Religion doesn't get an opinion on science. So, if I'm an employer, I shouldn't have to provide coverage for cholesterol medicine if I believe with no scientific evidence that Lipitor causes people to be gay?
Only for the new members of this blog:
The reality of se-x, abortion, contraception and STD/HIV control: – from an agnostic guy who enjoys intelligent se-x-
Note: Some words hyphenated to defeat an obvious word filter. ...
The Brutal Effects of Stupidity:
: The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the Pill (8.7% actual failure rate) and male con-dom (17.4% actual failure rate) have led to the large rate of abortions and S-TDs in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the Pill or co-ndoms properly and/or use safer methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.- Failure rate statistics provided by the Gut-tmacher Inst-itute. Unfortunately they do not give the statistics for doubling up i.e. using a combination of the Pill and a condom.
Added information before making your next move:
from the CDC-2006
"Se-xually transmitted diseases (STDs) remain a major public health challenge in the United States. While substantial progress has been made in preventing, diagnosing, and treating certain S-TDs in recent years, CDC estimates that approximately 19 million new infections occur each year, almost half of them among young people ages 15 to 24.1 In addition to the physical and psy-ch-ological consequences of S-TDs, these diseases also exact a tremendous economic toll. Direct medical costs as-sociated with STDs in the United States are estimated at up to $14.7 billion annually in 2006 dollars."
Consumer Reports, January, 2012
"Yes, or-al se-x is se-x, and it can boost cancer risk-
Here's a crucial message for teens (and all se-xually active "post-teeners": Or-al se-x carries many of the same risks as va-ginal se-x, including human papilloma virus, or HPV. And HPV may now be overtaking tobacco as the leading cause of or-al cancers in America in people under age 50.
"Adolescents don’t think or-al se-x is something to worry about," said Bonnie Halpern-Felsher professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. "They view it as a way to have intimacy without having 's-ex.'" (It should be called the Bill Clinton Syndrome !!)
Obviously, political leaders in both parties, Planned Parenthood, parents, the "stupid part of the USA" and the educational system have failed miserably on many fronts.
The most effective forms of contraception, ranked by "Perfect use":
– (Abstinence, 0% failure rate)
– (Masturbation, mono or mutual, 0% failure rate)
One-month injectable and Implant (both at 0.05 percent)
Vasectomy and IUD (Mirena) (both at 0.1 percent)
The Pill, Three-month injectable, and the Patch (all at 0.3 percent)
Tubal sterilization (at 0.5 percent)
IUD (Copper-T) (0.6 percent)
Periodic abstinence (Post-ovulation) (1.0 percent)
Periodic abstinence (Symptothermal) and Male condom (both at 2.0 percent)
Periodic abstinence (Ovulation method) (3.0 percent)
Every other method ranks below these, including Withdrawal (4.0), Female condom (5.0), Diaphragm (6.0), Periodic abstinence (calendar) (9.0), the Sponge (9.0-20.0, depending on whether the woman using it has had a child in the past), Cervical cap (9.0-26.0, with the same caveat as the Sponge), and Spermicides (18.0).
What's your point?
One more time as previously noted: My point !!
"Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the Pill or co-ndoms properly and/or use safer methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs."
From the article: "given a full hearing on the merits of the case, I am confident that the Supreme Court will rule in favor of religious liberty"
Religious liberty does not mean having the right to restrict the liberty of others. This is why we have separation of church and state. If your faith does not allow the use of the morning after pill, then don't use it. That's the beauty of free will in a free society.
The bottom line is that providing access to birth control is law, and the courts should not allow companies to break that law because the founder of a company has certain religious views that not all of his employees share. There is a minimum acceptable level of coverage that they have to provide.
What's your point?
I don’t want to get too deep into explaining the Bible, apparently some of you still need milk and that’s ok. However, Ed raised some great questions. A Jehovah’s Witness business man provides health insurance to his employees, most of them are witnesses. The insurance will pay for blood and blood transfusions. It is up to the individual witness to make his or her own decisions about blood transfusions. If the government tries to force a blood transfusion then you involved the courts of the land.
A Medical Doctor, who is a Jehovah’s Witness, works in the emergency room of a major hospital. A critically injured patient needs a blood transfusion according to generally accepted standards in the practice of medicine. The patient is so advised and agrees to have the transfusion. The MD administers the transfusion although based on his or her own faith they would personally decline a transfusion.
Welcome to the Obama Reich. Punish the job creators. Push all power to the fascist, left-wing government. You are seeing it happen before your eyes.
SUCKS TO BE YOU THEN. STALIN 2016
Lol, only you wingnuts would equate equal treatment under the law as facsist punishment. No one is forcing you to take any pills that your sky fairy told you not to in the bible. But you are not allowed to tell other people that they can't take pills because you believe in an invisble bearded man who lives secretly in the clouds and watches what meds insurance companies pay for, so that he may send his loving servants into eternal suffering for partaking in group coverage plans.
How about this idea? DON'T SEEK OUT A JOB FROM A COMPANY THAT HAS CERTAIN BELIEFS THAT YOU DON'T AGREE WITH!!!! I would have NO problem at all walking into a McDonald's for a job and they told me that they apologize for not being able to supply me with some STUPID contraceptive because I can't seem be smart enough to pull out or buy a condom at the local gas station on my own time, all due to THEIR religious beliefs. If I didn't like their policy, I would walk across the street to Burger King or Wendy's or Taco Bell or KFC and work there instead. There are other companies out there that you can work for. Besides, Hobby Lobby doesn't pay that much per hour anyway, so go to Michaels or some other craft store if you feel the NEED to have to make a career out of working with craft materials. Or better yet, maybe think about changing your career or starting YOUR OWN business where they allow abortion type contraceptives.
You are missing the point, dummy. You should be more alarmed at someone who takes the position, "contraceptive products, like the morning after pill, equate to abortion", which is just ridiculous in 2012.
You are calling people stupid, while favoring the "pulling out" method of birth control. I stopped reading your idiocy there.
Just close the doors, let people see what an impact this is going to have, it's already happening around the country.
If Hobby Lobby closed its doors, that would be a tragedy for the employees, but it wouldn't hurt the economy one whit. Some other company would pick up the slack to meet the demand for crafts. No big loss.
Sounds like a proper ruling to me! I am glad they have it for specific religious organizations but this shop is not that; it is a business. If they have employees of other religions do they not give those other religious holidays off? How much legally is a company supposed to be tied to its religion? Will they fire someone if they have an abortion using the money they are paid by the company? This is not a job path leaving to a monastery or nunnery; it is a work place plain and simple.
They can just follow Jesus’ advice and the worldly governments would not be a problem at all. Sell your belongings and come be my follower.
And SOTOMAYER "REFUSED" an injunction for the corporation until the Supreme Court decision. What a surprise huh folks. Gee. who just put that freedom hating liberal Mexican in that position? YOU GUESSED IT!
" THE COMMUNIST AND CHIEF... OBAMA"
I can see the smile on the no good ***tards face right now...
So sad how many on the religious right are unable to comprehend that people who do not hold their beliefs do so under their own power. If there is a civil war the blood will be on your hands for being so close minded.
Yes, its true. Not all people subscribe to your brand of fantasy. Stop shouting about it. We arent all deluded jesus nuts.
Frankie boy, jealousy is an ugly emotion
Want to do business in the US? Don't shaft your employees. Nobody's telling you what to believe or forcing you to do anything other than treating your employees fairly. Shaft your employees, it's the Christian way.
Should a Jehovah's Witness employer refuse coverage for blood transfusions?
Should a Baptist employer refuse coverage for liver damage caused by alcohol?
Should a Mormon employer refuse coverage for lung cancer caused by smoking?
What about treatment for AIDS?
It's a slippery slope when you let employers slice and dice insurance based on religious prejudices.
First of all the Green family are perfectly free to practice their religion any way they please. Their business, which hires non-family members and quite likely non-christians cannot dictate how or what their employees do with respect to managing their reproduction. Hobby Lobby is a business...a freaking craft store...not a church...and the law is quite clear about what a business must provide its employees.
1) The morning after pill is not abortion, if the fertilized egg is attached to the wall, it does nothing.
2) Corporations are not people, it doesn't get to force is religious views on its employees
If you don't law, vote in a congressman or senator who will work to change it. Until then, don'tt do the crime if you can't pay the fine. Simple as that.
Insert "like a" between "don't" and "law".
All the humanistic comments sound so "reasonable". As a Christian you CANNOT compartmentalize the different areas that make up your life. You either follow the Bible or you don't, whether you work for someone or you own a business. When we stand before God, saying, "Well, the U.S. government had a law that said I must comply with providing drugs/devices that kill the pre-born babies for all my employees that choose that route, so don't blame me". You think that is going to absolve a person in God's eyes? We even have laws that if you contribute in any way to a crime being committed you are just a guilty as the one(s) that committed the crime. When the laws of the land are opposed to God's laws a Christian is compelled to follow God's laws. "A fool has said in his heart, there is no God."
The pills don't cause abortions, if the egg isn't attached to the wall, she isn't pregnant. And if it is already attached when she takes the pill, then it doesn't do a thing.
You really need to re-read your Bible in regard to God's take on human law.
So Irene... how many Catholics (or [INSERT RELIGION OF CHOICE]) join the military and kill other members of the opposing force? If you interpret your beliefs one way, it has to remain consistant throughout life – not just when it's convenient. By doing the latter, you are... and remain, a hypocrite.
Thanks for reminding me why religion is so disastrous for society. I do not doubt the compassion of the religiosity as you should not doubt the compassion of atheists; however he all or nothing approach of taking a single ancient text over rational thought and discourse just depresses me so deeply. I fear that inescapable blackhole of fundamentalism draws in far too many intelligent people by taking advantage of fears and questions that we all face.
*Insert a humanist equivalent of "I will pray for your soul"
How would you feel about an employer restricting insurance coverage for blood transfusions based on his or her religious beliefs as a Jehovah's Witness? Or no medical treatment at all if your employer's religious beliefs (Christian Scientist) eschew medical care in favor of prayer? Insurance coverage is a part of an employee's compensation package and should be subject to an employer's religious beliefs no more than the paycheck itself.
Irene: The only laws that matter are the laws of the land. Given that your god can't be proven to exist, its laws mean nothing, especially not in a Secular country and especially not when it comes to someone's rights as to what they do with their personal bodies. I deny your god and am not worried of any judgement because I simply reject the notion that your imaginary friend is anything more than imaginary.
What if your daughter was raped? Would you insist she keep the baby due to your belief's? What if her life was at risk if she were to follow through with the pregnancy or the babe wasn't going to survive-would you be so ignorant and cold-hearted to demand she carry that pregnancy to term?
You should educate yourself on the topic of abortion and contraception before using your belief to say what is right or wrong for another person. If a woman wants an abortion and can't get it legally, she will do so regardless and that might be more dangerous.
Your god is the biggest baby killer of all time...think of all the miscarriages that happen or still births. Read Holocaust of the Children by Gregory Paul.
saying christians follow the bible is hog wash.have you ever read the bible?they pick and choose what they want from the bible.this right wing company want's to force its political views on their employees not their religious believes.what about their employees rights?
saying christians follow the bible is hog wash.have you ever read the bible?they pick and choose what they want from the bible.this right wing company want's to force its political views on their employees not their religious beliefs.what about their employees rights ,they shouldn't be forced by an employer to go agains't their beliefs.
Listen to all the evil Liberals obeying their master "Obama". Sickening isn't it? Murder your unborn children in the name of OBAMA or pay the million dollar fines! I hope this nation doesn't fall into civil war over the next 4 years against the liberals and the conservatives because just like the north and the south of the last civil war we both have views that are 180 degree's of one another.
Things are going to get real ugly I fear over the next 4 years. Obama cramming Clavard and Pivan down our throats to full-fill the DREAMS OF HIS COMMUNIST FATHER. Frank Marshal Davis, so he can use the destruction of America to move to socialism / communism. And just think, he can blame the REPUBLICANS and WHITE PEOPLE for it!
So Irene, If i have a relegion that says you must have an abortion because thats what my God wants then I have a right to force my employees to have an abortion?
Frank, you sound like a paranoid nut-job. I'm guessing that you're a high school drop-out.
And another bible nut that talks about things she is clueless in. If you want to form your own little community of silly rules and mumbled prayers to invisible sky people, you are more than welcome to. What you are not welcome to do is make other people follow your silly rules.
no, irene, the fool is the one who purports to speak for god, and issue empty proxy threats.
So, Frankie, does posting your drivel in caps make it more valid to you?
Irene, "Onward christian soldiers, Onward onto war, with the cross of Jesus going on before." You are picking the fly sh*it out of the pepper as most christians do, interpreting the bible to suit your purpose. OK to send the guys and gals off to kill the heathen none believers, but woe betide some drug addicted teenage girl from aborting her fetus. I think even your jesus would see that as just plain stupid. If you find a reference in your babble against aborting a fetus, please share. The hypocrisy is devine.