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.
As Jim Carrey put it in Liar Liar: "Stop breaking the law, assh*les!"
Print out all the laws across the land in americult. Stack em on the deck of a battle ship and it would sink.
Americult? You are a drone yourself dude...
Since when do corporations have religious beliefs. Oh, ya I forgot Mitt Romney thinks they're people. Corporations are not people. If the owners of Hobby Lobby are so intent on following their religious beliefs why don't they sell their corporation and become missionaries. Instead of trying to impose religious dogma on people. Also, that Sunday off bit means most employees never get two days off at the same time, it is usually split days off.
Since Hobby Lobby is owned entirely by a family who is entirely Christian
Women should not be denied the right to medicine just because it goes against that company/owner's faith. Blood transfusions go against the Jehovah's Witnesses faith. Should an employee not be covered for that if a company owned by a JW decides they don't want to pay for that? Exactly where do you draw the line here?
The bully answer is to tell the line drawers to leave. So have at it.
The government should give all funds collected from the fine to planned parenthood. That would be awesome 🙂
Yeah, take some of the pressure off the Muslims.
Hobby Lobby's on eBay; they worship the Almighty Dollar and they"ll sell to anyone, not just those who "primarily share its religious tenets" and who "primarily serve persons who share its religious tenets." HL Managemanr is free to pursue and embrace their own fervent moralities but the cannot infringe on those of their employees, whatever their tenet. HL better put more focus on their bottom line instead of lording over their employees,, it seems they have some bills to pay.
"on Ebay and... they"ll sell to anyone.. " What are they supposed to do? Run a background investigation at check-out? You're an idiot.
Their religion does not require Hobby Lobby to exist, therefore Hobby Lobby is a secular activity and must comply with the law.
Contraceptives are relatively low in cost and being demanded by generally able bodied individuals. Routine vision exams and routine hearing exams as well as long term nursing care are still not covered by your precious governement sponsored Medicare. Hmm, by all means lets keep talking about what the governement sponsored Obama media wants us to talk about- go ahead.
I'm sorry, The federal government has more important things to worry about than some small sects religious beliefs. If this was the Taliban speaking every red blooded American would be shouting them down. Let them pay the fines. If they want to set an example let them do it.
bman, you da bully man. That ain't luvin' da neighbors.
Right! The Governement needs to stay focused on the Collective, not puny little individual rights!!! They are fojust need to keep worrying about taking care of everyone.
al: maybe you are the collective? personal right are what is being fought for! not a corporations ability to choose for you. If you do not want one, or do not think using BC that prevents implementation of an egg is right, or do not agree with invitro...then DONT DO IT.
Once again, the corporation is not choosing for you. They just don't want to pay for it. I would venture to say that you have never owned a business. Just because somebody creates a business does not mean that they should have to lose thier soul in order to maintain it. But I understand that you probably believe in that whole us vs them "evil corporation" mentality.
And just because they own a business doesn't mean they get to ignore federal mandates like a church gets to. They knew what they were getting into when making the company, and knew that federal regulations applied to them. Sorry, but the age of religious favoritism is coming to an end, slowly but surely.
I am a Christian scientist.....should I be able to deny my employees insurance all together because I believe that any medical intervention is against gods will?
Correction. You're insane.
Yes. Your company, your choice.
should you be able as a corporation that believes in the superiority of whites, be able to fire or refuse hire of someone with a skin color you do not approve of?
your own life is one thing, someone else's life is another. to contribute to the demise of another human being is repulsive to those who value life, and we are talking about a life. what about a night before pill, kinda like salt peter, i am sure obama will get around to that bfore long, how will that suit you?
Tell me where the law - any law - says that.
I'll wait here why you cry and try to spout off more nonsense.
and i am sure you have no problem with in vitro then? or the slaughter of innocent children in our wars? If you are going to draw a BW line in the sand then you have to follow it all they way through...to entirety.
Abortion and the morning after pills have actually never, ever killed another human being. They've stopped zygotes from forming into human beings. Just because you're ridiculous beliefs make you think otherwise doesn't make it medical fact. You're fighting against science, and in the country, no matter how long it takes, science always wins over silly religions.
Your choice can factor into the size of your organization (50 members or less, contract out if you need more people), Get on the exemption list (like SEIU), just pay the penalty and drop insurance altogether (boost employee pay to recompense), or break up the employee hours so they are part-time. I've chosen what my company will do. Obamacare is pretty easy to get around if you do some legwork. Especially for new companies who are forming around the new. It's full of holes.
If we're lucky that awful store goes out of business
As far as I know, nobody has told anybody that works at Hobby Lobby that they have to take the nmorning after pill.
So, there is no infringement on religious freedom.
Stupid christards. They spend more time trying to turn this country into a third world theocracy than they do mast uba ting to their jeebus idol.
What if we force you to pay for abstinence only education for your children in school, but don't force you to stop your child from having an abortion? Have we still infringed on your pro-choice beliefs?
I realize this analogy may be a bit too complex for you to understand.
That would be gay, and we all know none of theem are excited by boys.
(They Fap to the virgin mother!)
No, they art being forced to take it. They just have to pay for it. You know, with their premiums? Please don't say "the insurance compay is the one paying for it".....
So? I have to "pay" for your diabetes and hypertension meds, many of which are only needed because you're fat. I have to pay for your glaucoma and COPD and asthma meds because you smoke.
What is the difference?
They only pay for it if it's utilized.
I can't believe that those good Christian ladies would ever do anything so tawdry as have s.ex outside of Holy Matrimony.
Good point Tom! Why are we paying that???!!!!
Tom you have an excellent point. As a matter of fact, biometric screenings are about to be a big big factor in determining health insurance premiums so that should make you happy. Now, can we get back to talking about people being forced to pay for the destruction of a fertilized egg? Now, i may suprise you by saying that I'm not sure if the morning after pill is actually ending a life. But, i do know that some people consider destroying a fertilized egg to be an abortion. They do not want to stop other people from doing it- it is just simply not fair to make them pay for it.
This is just another of the ridiculous consequences of our society being bamboozled into depending on wildly unpredictable employers to provide health insurance purchased from overpriced, inefficient underwriters. Compared to other industrialized nations, the U.S. has the highest medical costs that inflate every year while steadily declining in overall health care performance. Obamacare is just another smokescreen that will only aggravate this tangled web of deceit. But, to be fair, it's not bad for everybody. Medical, pharmaceutical, and insurance corporations are happy as hogs to be sucking up profits from this slop trough. Furthermore, if your employer tries to claim religious justification for policies that affect your compensation,you're probably working for a satanic cult.
Fact: The top 5 medical colleges in the USA average MORE medical breakthroughs each year than the entire rest of the world combined.
Fact: Those Medical insurance companies average 6%-7% profits which means that they have no choice than to be lean and efficient to survive.
Fact: "other industrialized nations", as you put it, have people dying every day for things that even our so called "uninusred" get medical treatment for. A bum in the USA can go into any non-private ER (over 99% are non-private) complaining about chest pains and that person will receive a complete check-up that your so called "other industrialized nations" can only dream of providing for their "insured" citizens!
... the problem is simple ... it's the LAWYERS, not the insurance companys, hospitals, doctors, or anyone else the media and prliticians like to blame! We need to get the stinking sleazy lawyers under control in this country or we have no hope! We regulate other industries ... why not regulate lawyers??? (Maybe because most of the politicians are lawyers themselvs???)
What's really absurd is expecting that all of your employees are following your personal religious beliefs. Do they only hire devout Catholics? Why should they be exempted from a law because the owner doesn't like it? If I'm a devil worshiper should I be exempted from the law when I need a human to sacrifice? If they want to be in the business of religion, then do that. If they want to be in the business of selling cheap craft crap from China, then do that instead.
They're not asking their employees to follow their religious beliefs. They're simply asking that the government not force them to pay for their employees to do things that are against their religious beliefs. The employees are entirely free to do those things and pay for them themselves. You're crossing wires here.
Well the law says that they do not have the right to pick and choose which procedures or prescriptions they will allow their employees to get under their insurance coverage, according to the owner's religious beliefs. If my religion says all medical care is sinful does that mean I don't have to cover anything? NO. So if they want to fall on their sword and go bankrupt instead of following the law just because they're a bunch of self righteous hypocrites I'm perfectly happy with that. Perhaps they shouldn't buy nearly everything they sell from the Chinese, for whom abortion is at astronomical levels. They don't seem to have any moral issue with making money off of them. Interesting, wouldn't you say?
I believe Quakers still have to pay taxes that support the Defense Dept. So Hobby Lobby should pay for contraception. Nobody is forcing the Hobby Lobby to USE the stuff.
Whatever happened to "Render under Caeser that which is Caeser's?"
Make that "unto Caesar."
Caesar was a conquering foreign illegitimate king. Sound familiar? In americult you have PUblic Servants and Masters. The educratists didn't tell you about master and slave relationships? You can't use and abuse Servants to bully your neighbors.
What a bunch of dumb a#! liberals. "render unto ceasar"? Just what is ceasars' here, the uterus? course there will be more money for handouts if you kill a human before a "doctor" is needed to chop one up. It's a good thing you progressive's are without a soul, you'd have to sell that too.
caesar's, not caesars'
progressives, not progressive's
Go back to school. And stay awake this ime.
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.
They also have no problem paying one third party to get contraception or abortions (their employees) but have a huge problem paying another third party to do the same thing (insurance company).
They should definitely stop giving paychecks to employees that might use that money for contraception or abortions. That money might go toward something else they don't agree with, too!
You are a moron - you better not own a house, a car, any appliance, any clothing, or any other item manufactured since the 19th century. Because rest assure, if you do, you own, and have thus bought, items manufactured in India, a country which is staunchly pro-LIFE and by numerous other measures denies women basic rights/choices. Thus, you are a hypocrite by your own standards.
Yeah, Kristina,India is as bad or worse than China. So? That doesn't absolve Hobby Lobby.
"Thus, you are a hypocrite by your own standards'
I'm not the one crying about contraceptives. Hobby Lobby is.
So I'm not a hypocrite, but you are a moron.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;
Yep, this law doesn't give a fvck what a company's religion says. Precisely correct.
Nobody's preventing them from practicing their religion. Nobody is being forced to involuntarily take the morning after pill. What IS being prevented is a company insisting that all their employees follow the same religious beliefs as the owners. If the owners want to preach religion they should have gone to seminary instead of business school.
Yes Leah they are not forcing people to take th morning after pill. They are just forcing them to pay for it for others. This is how insurance works.
Well when they don't have any employees because their company goes bankrupt over this, they won't have any obligation to pay for anything they don't agree with. Maybe they should sell the company to someone willing to follow the law and become preachers instead.
When they don't have any employees? I have heard nothing about a massive walkout. Get it straight, thier employees in general support them in this. It is the government that is about to put them out of a job.
the "morning after pill" prevents the egg from being fertilized. It is NOT an abortion. People need to look at the science of the drug before they go on tv.
The morning afetr pill prevents a fertilized egg from implanting in the womb.
I agree, it's not an abortion, but let's get the science right.
You are wrong about the morning after pill and some birth control pills. What it and they do is prevent implantation of the fertilized egg (basically preventing a hostile environment) in the uterus. Conception is not prevented, therefore, the fertilzed egg is "aborted". For a Christian, who believes that life begins at conception, this would be a problem and a moral dilemma. Which places the onus on the INDIVIDUAL, not the government or retail outlet, to accept or reject God's teaching on the matter...
Wow, I'm amazed at the honest concession. So, now that we agree that abortion is relative to pregnancy and that pregnancy is relative to an implanted embryo, let's define what "conception" is relative to.
The folks at Hobby-Lobby feel that the Baby is "conceived" through fertilization 
Those opposed to Hobby-Lobby feel that the Baby is "conceived" through implantation. 
I am not a Christian, but I have a hard time arguing that a fertilized egg has any less value before implantation. If we allow people the freedom to determine an ethical stance on the origins of life, we cannot force them to abandon the ethic without first engaging in a thurough and level discussion on it's implications and effects.
You might not be a jee bus-believer, but I'll bet you've got a penis.
And really, you're "not a Christian" but you cite "life news" as a source? You lying ass hole.
Are you retarded?
The morning after pill is categorized as an Emergency Contraceptive. Doesn't matter what you "believe", what matters is the law. Abortion is legal, get over it you can't force people not to get one. Contraception is not abortion, and is legal, get over it, you can't force your religious views onto other people.
She's not forcing her views on you. You are forcing your view on a company which has been publicly Christian since it's founding. What you're saying is:" If you're a Christian, you must abandon your ethical stance to open a buisness."
No, what I'm saying is that they don't get an exemption reserved for churches just because they really really believe it. If they want to open a for-profit business, they damn well better be prepared to play by the same rules as everybody else.
Easy fix: Remove the companies from the healthcare system entirely. Have them pay their workers a higher wage based on what they would normally pay in healthcare and let the employee purchase their own healthcare.
This puts more of the responsibility in the hands of the employee over their own healthcare and puts all the liability in their hands as well.
I agree with this completely. The cost of managing a healthcare plan internally cuts into profit. There are admin costs above the base premiums.
Except that it's illegal under the ACA.
buying individual healthcare plan is much costlier than thru a company. companies usually get a steep discount on premium only because of cheer number of participants.
That sounds like a reasonable compromise. Now how do we get in touch with Hobby Lobby HQ and Congress/Judaical? It would set the precedence for other companies who are going to take issue with the mandate.
It isn't always cheaper to get it through the company. Our company insurance would be 1500-1600 a month for me and my family. I get the same coverage for 225. Group insurance is only cheaper if the group is overall healthy and/or you aren't.
If I own a business and I personally believe that everything is god's will, and only holistic medicine should be practiced, can I limit the plan I offer employees to cover only holistic providers?
Look at it this way – the company could wind up paying thousands if some of the promiscious women needed the pill about 250 times a year – that would cost quite a bit.
Are they not complaining about buying viagra for the fat, bald headed, promiscuous male employees? Or is it O.K. for males to be "promiscuous", and not for females? How about married woman who do not want any more children? What category do they fall into?
What? Your comment makes zero sense. The morning after pill is basically 4 birth control pills taken the day after unprotected intercourse. It is not an abortion pill, it is same thing in your regular birth control pills. If you were taking birth control pills you wouldn't have to worry about it (unless you forgot to take a pill or two), and many women take 365 birth control pills every year whether they are married but not ready for a child, celibate but using them to regulate their menstrual cycle, or any number of reasons. Go educate yourself before making any more asinine comments.
Each individual woman's wage benefits would be paying for the pills...not the employer. Health care insurance coverage is an earned wage benefit...it is paid for by a deduction from the woman's hourly pay scale before she receives it, it is deducted weekly from her salary to monthly pay her health insurance premium....all these transactions show on her pay stub, and she actually pays taxes on all her wages including the part which goes for her health insurance. She will also receive a end of year tax paperwork from the employer that shows exactly what her total wages were for the year with her health insurance as a part of her total wage stated separately, all on which she owes taxes. So, the employer should have no rights to dictate what type health coverage benefits for which she spends her wages..
Those pesky promiscuous women! No one should hire them anyway.
Or fat people, they're expensive too.
And anyone over 60.