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.
Here's a solution. HL doesn't pay for health insurance anymore. Instead, they pay the premiums to the employee by grossing up their earnings and the employer simply deducts the money back from their pay to cover their premiums. Now the employee is paying for the coverage with their own money. How simple is that? It's actually a common practice for various types of insurance.
Just cut everyone to part time <35 hours per week and avoid this whole mess.
It's more satisfying to jump up and down and scream persecution. Free advertising. I doubt any of the company's owners give a rat's ass about babies, unborn or not. It's lip service to a religion that assumes life begins once the first breath is taken.
My God gave me freedom, that apparently their god wants them to take it away...
What is with you brain dead liberals. You want to impose all these rules yet it is one's right to have birth control provided by someone else? I can't believe the hipocracy in this country. Don't worry you brain dead idiots are going to run this country into the ground and when that happens who is going to be on your side?
Jason, you and the rest of the tinfoil hat squad need to adjust your hats occasionally. They get too tight and cut off oxygen to your brains.
Jason, no one is saying this company has to provide the morning after pill. They simply have to provide comprehensive health insurance so the person and their doctor can decide how best to use it to manage their health.
I just love it when the fundies cite "personal responsibility" as a reason to deny employees certain types of health care. It cracks me up. Is smoking some sort of necessity? Is anyone forcing them to do it? Why, then, should I pay for smoking cessation programs? What about their gluttony? Why should I pay for weight management and exercise programs?
How do these idiots not see the parallels?
All choices are fine unless it involves the possible prevention or termination of white christian babies.
Tom, last time i looked at my paycheck, my company takes $70 extra because i smoke. I would be ok if they also take $70 out of other peoples paychecks if they want abortions.
monte, really? $70 higher because you're a smoker? Hmm. And it's contraceptives, not abortions. No one's asking for an abortion fund of some kind.
"Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son sayz,
I just love it when I see myself in a mirror.
Tom is very myopic.
Too bad not one of the response here refutes my point.
Sam, look into you insurance policy, my insurance covers abortions and in 2014 i do believe that will be the case
I don't believe you on either of your claims.
And monte folds. Of course. What a shocker.
What don't you believe, being charged or a policy that allows three abortions in a lifetime?
Starting in 2013, my company will be taking an extra $50/month from the paychecks of employees who do not certify that they are tobacco free, because it is simple math that people who use tobacco are at higher risk for some of the most costly health issues.
Conversely, my company's insurance company has long covered contraception in full for an equally simple reason: it is less expensive to prevent a pregnancy than it is to carry one to term and deliver.
Mind you, my insurance premiums are nearly $50/paycheck, so I'm still footing the bill for some of that. And I don't use birth control.
The charged part because I work for a substance abuse rehabilitation company, smoke heavily, and haven't been charged a cent extra for it.
The other because I've never heard of a company saying a straight abortion procedure will be paid for 3 times in a lifetime.
What's your companies name? Are all of those things standard? What you're saying doesn't really add up to me.
Insurance company is Cigna, the reason why i know this, because the wife is having problems having children. Of course the policy does not cover fertility treatments but it does state that it will cover three abortions, I believe it stated, "in the lifetime of the policy" and to being charged, not all companies are the same. I am in healthcare so my comapny charges. If I do not do the mandatory health assessement, they are able to charge me $300 extra a month for insurance. Sorry, but this is just the start
Page 18 of my policy, sorry it is only 2, trying to copy and paste but having problems
Includes elective and non-elective
Note: Elective abortions limited to 2
visits per lifetime.
Physician’s Office Visit No charge after the $20 PCP or $40
Specialist per office visit copay
60% after plan deductible
Inpatient Facility $250 per admission copay, then 90%
after plan deductible
$250 per admission deductible, then
60% after plan deductible
Outpatient Facility 90% after plan deductible 60% after plan deductible
Physician’s Services 90% after plan deductible 60% after plan deductible
Is it just Mifiprex and medically necessary abortions to save the life of the mother? I'm finding it hard to believe it just says "abortions".
There you go
Believe what you want, states elective, do not understand why you would do it in doctors office if it was a emergency
"There you go" what? You've proven not a single thing, you moron. Stop lying.
ok, would not expect less from you
If it is Mifiprex, then that would mean the company would only partially cover 2 early pregnancy medical elective abortions in a plans lifetime, and any elective surgical abortion would not be covered at all. Basically after 9 weeks it's on the persons dime (and on average women don't realize they're pregnant until 7-10 weeks or something like that).
I do see the parellel and have outlined what is being done about it. Now, back to the topic at hand.....
Thankfully, I have the right to NEVER shop at this store. It's Michael's craft store for me!
Serial killas know the score. They prevent a murder post r a p e. Before conception! That's control.
So if I own a business and refuse to hire women because I believe they are property of men and have no place at work, just as the bible says they have no place in the church, can I be exempt from discrimination laws based on my religious perspective?
I guess if the government tells you to do this you have to.
Yes, and if you're not, then you're being persecuted.
Good point. 🙂 I think the whole issue is crazy... I mean before "ObamaCare" how many of these so-called conscientious companies gave a damn about what kind of medical care or drugs their employees where using? Furthermore, since when do corporations distribute medications or medical care... I thought that was left up to the individuals and their physicians and the insurance company. I wish these companies would just offer healthcare insurance to their employees and stay out of their personal lives... kinda like what they want the government to do.
The problem is, companys pay a portion of the insurance cost. They are being told that they have to include items which increase the cost. If they are forced to do this, than pass it on to the employees who want it, or get rid of it and let them take their own policy out or let the governement take them on
Whats the problem, get rid of the insurance, pay the $2000 per employee and make them buy through the government next year
2000 times 13,000 = 26,000,000. That's only 20 days worth of fines.
Sam, you forgot over 20% of the employees can be scheduled 30 hours or less, than they do not have to pay
Contraceptions are not abortions. Everyone stop repeating that there is abortion involved in this matter.
At the very least, it is intellectually dishonest to keep using the term abortion when referring to the prescription plan that Hobby Lobby has a problem with; at worst, you are a straight-up liar. I am willing to give everyone the benefit of doubt that people are not liars. Muddying the waters with all this abortion talk is not productive. Even the Plan B pills are shown to be non-abortive. I know the fundamentalist pro-lifers hate to hear that, but that is the science we have in the 21st century. The Plan B pills are not the same as RU-486, which became known as the "abortion pills" some years ago. Just because the higher-ups at Hobby Lobby "believe" that the morning after pills are abortive, it does not change the medical science involved with it, and it certainly doesn't free them from the responsibility to follow the laws.
I think their main worry is that a woman can't be 100% sure an embryo has not magically implanted already the morning after. It's hard, using logic and reason when your main goal is to remind dirty whores not to have sex outside marriage at all, and then make sure they understand they should be having lots of kids after marriage.
All life is sacred – as long as it's white, christian and unborn.
Thank you for trying to educate people.
One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr.
I’m curious if they are ok with covering Viagra under their insurance.
What's da problem? King O has the answer: Mandate Mania with a side of Waiver Mania.
Simple solutions are often the progeny of simple thinking.
What a silly argument from Hobby Lobby/Mardel. A corporation is NOT a person and does NOT have a faith, regardless of what a bought and paid for Supreme Court says.
Abortions arent medical problems that should be covered like other medical problems are. A medical problem would be one such as, erectile dysfunction. This is a medical problem that cannot be helped, and will require medication to fix.
Very much like plastc surgery, abortions arent necessary. Because of this, if you want an Abortion you pay for it. Its not something that needs to be paid for from your employer. He is not paying for your plastic surgery because you are ugly.
Optional is optional. Nobody should pay for optional treatment but the person getting it. You dont need an abortion and you wont be getting one on anyways elses dime.
Abortion is sometimes a medical necessity, yes. I know it's hard to see things outside your tunnel vision.
Oh that logic? Well SOMETIMES plastic surgery is medically necessary. Does this mean everyone should be covered for free plastic surgery?
Idiot, learn to think logically.
this is their dime stupid. they work there and want to get the healthcare coverage that they pay for. it should not be up to the business to say whether they will agree to a medical procedure or not. that is the right of the woman and her doctor.
Go google all the cases of people requiring plastic surgery. They all had to pay for it themselves. Most started funds to help pay for it. Sometimes others were given it free by nice doctors.
Abortion is no different, and shouldnt be treated different. But as long as people like you assume woman need free abortion this debate will always be same. GO start a charity for Abortions.
You've been posting all over this article like a poster child for how not to display logic, so I'm not sure I'd take any advice from you to heart.
Plastic surgery rarely saves a life. Your example is ridiculous. I think ending an ectopic pregnancy trumps most plastic surgery. Go run and play.
ps – this is about contraceptive coverage, fool. Stop running around screaming abortion.
Plastic surgery saves plenty of lives indirectly. You are an idiot. Lrn2Google cases. Still doesnt mean it needs to be free for those few who require it.
Ironic you bring up saving lives when debating Abortion. Try to look more stupid.
Erectile dysfunction is God's method of contraception. Should that be covered?
"Go google all the cases of people requiring plastic surgery. They all had to pay for it themselves. Most started funds to help pay for it. Sometimes others were given it free by nice doctors"
My wife had plastic surgery to fix her nose after a nasty spill on an ice patch last christmas. Her insurance covered it.
You are a brain dead religitard.
ED is not life-threatening. Having s.ex is a choice, not a necessity.
Hmm...shouldn't have to pay for any life saving procedure, then. You're just full of it, and you're apparently not capable of more than a middle school mentality. Fuck off.
Hobby Lobby is not paying for abortion...the women who works for them is receiving health benefits as part of her pay package, and it is her money that is purchasing the type health care coverage she feels she needs. In other words, it is none of the employer's business what type health services she buys with her earned wage benefits. I also will boycott Hobby Lobby and Papa John's for not following the law of the land. I hope they are fined heavy.
But it ISN'T the woman's money. The whole point of this mandate is that the COMPANY she works for pays for it. And the company's owners have a right to refuse to participate in anything that is against their religious beliefs. Hobby Lobby stores are closed on Sundays because of religion. Do you think the gov't should force them to stay open? No? Then why do you think the gov't should force them to pay for abortion-causing drugs that are against the company's owners religious beliefs?
where does one get the idea the employee pays for their insurance alone and not HL? why do you think this is an issue? Of course companies pay into the insurance, otherwise the persons insurance would cost them a whole lot more!
I, too will not go to Papa John's or Hobby Lobby.
Women Deserve Better, so if HL believes that being taxed is religiously wrong they shouldn't have to participate? Also, while HL stores may be closed on Sundays, many of their employees are still required to work on that day.
Two things: 1) I'm sorry, but corporations do not have religious beliefs. They are not sentient beings. The owners of corporations have the beliefs. 2) The problem I have is morning after pills, abortion etc, while you may not agree with, have been deemed legal.They aren't going to be paying directly for a morning after pill. They will be paying for a health care plan that includes it as an option. A company should not be able to pick and choose what is covered. It is called "comprehensive health care" for a reason.
But it seems to be much more fun to get all outraged about it and flail around pointlessly.
Fine 'em. This business has chosen non-compliance with the law.
The law nobody read??????? BWWWWAAAAhahahahaha. The educratists 'ave blown your mind.
Ignore 'lol??' He's a socie troll.
Attention all religious nutjobs. The morning after pill is not abortion! Despite what you and your imaginary sky friend believe, you need a fetus to have an abortion. All the morning after pill does is prevent the zygote from adhearing to the wall of the uterus. Something that happens naturally quite often and some couples struggle to concieve because of this very problem. Remeber, it's not an abortion and stop trying to make it seem as if it is to further your own agenda.
ET, go home. It's a bully answer.
This argument only works if they accept science...
That is quite illogical. If you take a pill to prevent implantation, it's not natural. Additionally, you conceded that the embryo exists, which means you are in fact terminating "something".
While Pregnancy might be defined as an implanted embryo, fundamental Christians would define the act of conception the beginning of life...and that occurs before implantation.
If you want to get anywhere in these discussions, you must learn to concede where concession is appropriate. Why would you force someone to abandon their belief? Can't you compromise?
Squally What you are missing is that it doesn't matter whether you agree or disagree with the benefit in question. The argument is whether the state has the authority to force one party to provide said benefit to another against their religious convictions. Imagine, if you can, that the government decided you had to provide me with something you think is immoral. Doesn't matter what you feel about the benefit, only matter whether you believe the government has the right to enforce your behavior.
No one's providing anyone with anything but a potential choice. How is that so hard to see?
Riiiiigggghhhht, don't let the human find his lodging. Cut em off at da border.
Heineken, What has being natural got to do with it? Most of the drugs we use are not natural. Much of the food we eat is not natural (by that I mean it has been bred by humans). Most of our health procedures are not natural.
I don't know, Heineken – can't Hobby Lobby compromise?
You get a choice at the cost of a choice. How do you not see that?
So a Christian Scientist company would have to provide no medical insurance whatsoever according to their beliefs?
Watch Bill ignore Moby.
@ Santa – What do you mean? I 'm not seeing where I made a statement about "being natural".
@ Sam – They are compromising. They will pay for preventative contraception (which is against fundemental Christian views) but they won't pay for the Plan B because it is capable of preventing a fertilized egg from implanting.
Correct. Furthermore, anyone who gains employment with that company fell off the turnip truck along with the rest of them. Again, personal responsibility.
"Imagine, if you can, that the government decided you had to provide me with something you think is immoral"
What like forcing me to pay taxes to pay for a war in the midlle east?
I believe that is immoral. So I guess you agree that I should not have to pay for that.
I also believe religion is immoral, but my tax dollars subsidize churches that pay no taxes but enjoy all the benefits the fererdal government provides.
I guess I should not have to pay taxes because I believe those things are immoral.
It would be different maybe if it prevented the sperm from entering the egg....but conception is the beginning. plenty of people sadly lose their babies at all different stages, the DNA is there and their is life. Anything that grows is living, whether a weed or a baby in it's embriotic stage.
Personal responsibilty is essentially 'no sex before marriage'. After marriage, have lots of kids.
No one seems to care much about the personal responsibility that doesn't involve sex.
I went into Hobby Lobby several months ago and noticed that every item I picked up in the store was made in China. Rather than their execs worrying about their employees' private lives, why don't they show a little economic patriotism and boost the American economy, by buying at least SOME American-made goods. I love how these companies are completely amoral, or even immoral in their business practices, but then want to preach about issues like contraception. Give me a break.
It is just a little ironic.
Because we don't live in an American economy any more. We live in a world economy. You must have missed the memo.
It's ok to buy materials from a country that has human rights and infanticide problems. It's only an outrage when white christian babies are at risk.
But they're good Christians! Much like many other good Christians I have met in my life. Don't look in their closets!
How stupid are the fundie twits running Hobby Lobby?
95% of the items on thier shelves are made in China, a country where aborting female babies is as commonplace as rice noodles.
It's ok to buy from China, and sell Chinese goods, but providing America women with options that would prevent pregnancy (thus preventing abortions) is not cool.
What a bunch of brain dead riligiots.
I'm glad I've never shopped there.
Just poke holes in the condoms and call it an act of god, any "good" christian know this... lol
A simple solution would be for HL to drop the insurance and divide the cost of the insurance eaqully among the employees and let each provide for themselves the coverage they desire. Simple.
That would also be breaking the law. The Affordable Health Care Act requires all employers over a certain number of employees to provide health insurance.
not simple. the original law was already changed that insurance company (not employer) should provide contraceptives, this however did not stop churches' outcry that 'technically' since it's their money – it's them who provides contraceptives.
same with your solution, it would be HL's money that 'technically' still paying for birth control.
IIt's hard to deal with relig i ous supers ti tions.