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.
Eventually we will have universal care with one system – after our present system collapses from its own greed and corruption.
You mean like it is right now? Thanks to Republican Greed and the mythical nonexistent "Trickle Down Economics". 🙂
Can't happen soon enough to please me. Hope all insurance companies rot in hell. They kill people for money. As do drug companies.
I hope we do. It's working in many other countries just fine.
I'm onboard. A system of greed (capitalism) has to have reasonable limits. Some things should not be for profit, and quality healthcare is one of them.
It seems to me that the historical rulings of the Supreme Court suggest that the Obama Administration will loose on this issue of forcing health care policies that violate the conscience of an organization or individual. My suggestion is for the Obama to pre-empt this counter-ruling and simplify the process in such a way that would be fair and also allow individuals and organization to provide according to their own conscience. I suggestion is that the Obama administration simply sets the standard requirements of a plan, then fine (through taxation) the individual or organization an amount that would be commiserate with the Administration's expenses require to provide the provisions to the employees of the organization or individual that the organization or individual objects to. It is possible that the one tenant that Hobby Lobby objects to is not even demanded by the employees. In either case, the fine must be appropriate for the violation – i.e. it will not cost the Administration 1+ million per day to cover this type of contraception to the employees of this organization.
This is a for profit business. HL needs to comply with the law and get over it. Corporations do not have "beliefs", people do.
One could use the same logic to say, well, I am a for profit company, but my religious beliefs prohibit me from paying taxes. Either you are profit, or non profit. You can't pick and choose what suits you. Ask those who got drafted during Vietnam. They had no choice and it cost 57,000 of them their lives. Besides, the morning after pill is no different than birth control. No abortion occurs. The Catholic Church believes ANY form of birth control is abortion. While six justices, who are Catholics, might share their beliefs, the rest of the country doesn, which is why even 78% of American Catholics use brth control pills.
I understand completely the point of Hobby Lobby. The company was founded by a person with strong religious beliefs, and he feels this law infringes on those beliefs.
QUESTION: When hiring new employees, does Hobby Lobby indicate within the hiring paperwork that ALL employees must adhere to the same religious convictions held my the founder of the company? Are all employees required to worship in the same manner as the CEO of the corporation?
If the answer is "no" to these questions, then I don't see how this case has a leg to stand on. The company doesn't want the government infringing on it's core values, but it is okay with telling the employees after-the-fact that they must adhere to the founder's religious beliefs? If those beliefs were not made clear to the application before hiring, then those convictions should not be permitted to be forced upon the employee.
As long as their own beliefs remain intact and uncontested, nothing else matters to them.
It would be discrimination for them to make religious requirements of their employees. This is not a "religious organization" it is a for profit business.
Is that the best they could come up with – "Hobby Lobby"??
Hobby Lobby Stores ranked #198 by Forbes 2010.
Industry: Retailing (hobby and craft stores)
2011 Revenues: $2.28 bil
I'm sorry, you were saying something about them not knowing what they are doing?
What? It's the name of the store chain. Did you even bother to read the story?
No, Chad, she was making fun of their stupid name.
Reading comprehension at an all time low?
Chad- They obviously know its' good business to stock their stores with cheap merchandise from China, where abortions are perfectly acceptable. Did I miss HL's outrage over the practices of it's primary supplier? Can you point me to their outrage?
2011 Revenues: $2.28 bil
I'm sorry, I dont think I heard you correctly, that "bil" stands for "billion", as in two thousand, two hundred and eighty million dollars in revenue.
I did read how successful they were. I would hope they didn't spend much to come up with such a name. Of course WalMart is very successful, too. Maybe that's the thing – the name is supposed to make you think "cheap".
Chad, just because they rake in the doe doesn't mean their name isnt stupid, Frankly I agree it is stupid. People shop their most likely because they sell cheap crap. I hope and pray to the God of my choice the HL loses tons of revenue for this and have to pay HUGE fines for being stupid AND having a stupid name.
Chad, still waiting for you to point me to that HL outrage over China, the source of their products. What are they doing on that with their bils?
Well, at least their Christian bookstore chain affiliate "Mardel" didn't name themselves "Jesus Junk".
I wonder if Chard works as one of Hobby Lobby's store managers?
It is essentially impossible to establish a supply chain that is 100% in line with your business practices (if you have any familiarity with that discipline, you'll know why).
They purchase goods from China, where abortion is supplied by the government, and they live in a country where abortion is now supplied by the government.
Do you want them to create their own country? Where do you want them to purchase goods from? Abortion is illegal in only a handful of countries.
@mama k – LOL
Chad would love a place called Jesus Junk.
Who can't manage to form a cogent argument.
You voted for this administration because they were so into change... enjoy!! You stuck you head in the noose not you are irked someone kicked the chair??? Please.....
Are you drunk or just incompetent?
Well at least you're honest!
Wait. What do call it when you chase meth with vodka?
I'm not sure...which one is kicking your ass more? The meth or the vodka?
We got change unemployment is dropping despite the Tea Party congress fighting every jobs bill our president submitted, Home building starts are at a 2 yr high, college kids can now be insured until 26yrs old, insurance companies cannot block coverage for pre-exisiting conditions, Osama Bin Laden is dead and despite all the arguments the haters on the right made and them running a moderate candidate to beat Obama he won again. I would say we have some change for the better not enough though. Please tell your Tea Party and NRA friends to take off their pointy hats and robes and join the rest of the country now we need them. 🙂
Ya know, when you get liver failure from your excessive drinking, you can thank Obamacare for the surgery to replace it. 🙂
Will they also surgically remove the bugs crawling under my skin or should I remove those on my own?
That suddenly got awkward
I call poe
Those aren't bugs, Saber....they're Chinese dolls. Found in Aisle 7 of your local Hobby Lobby. Be sure to buy the ones marked "Made in China by someone who had an abortion". I'm sure the store will be fully stocked.
This thread gets an A+.
Dan, why don't they just sell abortion dolls? They can start a whole line: Pregnant Polly, Abortion Abby, Miscarriage Carrie, Sickle Cell Anemia Cindy...wait, that last one won't sell well.
Morning After Mindy, Late Term Linda, Preemie Patty....
I am religiously opposed to not being a multi-billionaire. Therefore, the government must make me a billionaire instantly or they are infringing upon my religious beliefs.
Individuals can have beliefs, corporations cannot since a corporate charter cannot form thoughts or beliefs. Corporation are created by government and therefore have no inalienable rights. For the same reason a corporation can be placed under any and all restriction a government wants to put on them, because the government created it.
I hope the government uses that money to open an insurance policy specifically for Hobby Lobby employees to use for contraception.
Hobby Lobby may be guilty of a crime. If any of the employee's pay contributes to the health care insurance, then Hobby Lobby has no right to direct or even know what medications it's employees receive. Do these kooks think they have the right to tell their employees what food they can buy? or clothing? car? video game?....An employer can set work clothing standards, drug test or hygeine regarding piercings but they cannot control what an employee does with their pay or benefits. Hobby Loopy needs to be prosecuted for missappropriating employee benefit funds ....
Yes. So much yes.
The company is not required to offer health benefits, but chooses to do so at great expense. This company also has been very open about its standards in areas of faith. You may disagree with their ideas, but I urge you to think about one thing. If the government can force a private company to violate its values, they may someday try to force you to do something that you find to be against your personal beliefs. This country is about individual freedom. This includes freedom about religious beliefs, freedom of expression, freedom to pursue happiness, freedom from invasion of privacy and loss of property to government actions. I see so many actions that are taking these freedoms away. Yours could be next on the list....
I couldn't agree more. What HL is really saying is they want to control the life of the employee. I hope the government stands it's ground on this travesty. I used to shop at HL but I will take my business elsewhere going forward.
Amen brother Joe!
The company is absolutely required to have insurance for their full-time employees, under the paramaters of the ACA.
Of course, if you want to opt-out of that coverage,
GRWohio, based on your personal or religious beliefs, you have that privelege.
This country is a secular country, and there is no room for religious belief to be legislated into law, merely because YOU personally believe it.
GRW, they already do. I don't believe in invading nations over what a group of terrorists did (not a nation) but we did. What shouldn't be allowed is a for profit business being able to deny employees certain aspects of healthcare to their employees.
GRW HL may have been very open with their values, but those values are the values of the owners, not the employee's you can pay people to run a cash register, organize stock, place orders with vendors and drive goods all over the country. You cannot pay them to share your values unless they want to. While they go to work they must extol those values as a face to the consumer that is dumb enough to shop at HL but when they leave and go home....they can be whom ever they want to be. When they go to the Dr. they can say yes to ANY drug the Dr recommends. When getting treatment for anything medical they can choose what is best for their own person and HL has ZERO invested in that. By law HL is required to provide health insurance and if people smoke, over eat, do drugs, jump out of airplanes with a parachut, bungee dive, rock climb or any number of dangerous choices they can do it even if it MIGHT be bad for them or MIGHT not agree with the owners beliefs.
I oppose war, but I still pay taxes to fund it.
Good point, Sacto.
What an issue. Too bad everything I ever saw in Hobby Lobby was made in China. That's un-American, so maybe you get what you deserve.
Ha. The gov't should announce that 100% of the daily Hobby Lobby millions in fine revenue will be donated to abortion clinics. Then let Hobby Lobby choose between absolutely contributing to abortion or simply obeying the law of the land which has the chance that a Hobby Lobby employee will actually use their health insurance to do something Hobby Lobby doesn't approve of, but which they have the legal right to do.
Yes, that is the dilemma when you have no choice but to salute the Dear Leader
Bill........dude..........let it go man...........he won twice.........live your life.
Just as HL employees are expected to bow to their Exhaulted Leader Mr. Green, right Bill?
@ Bill Please let it go, you hate our president. The hate you spew is just hurting you more and more each day and supporting illegal activity by a privately held business is unchristian of you.
I have a religious opposition to gluttony. I am morally opposed to any fat people receiving any weight related health services because it against my religious beliefs.
All you fatties are on your own with regards to health insurance.
You, good Sir, are today's winner.
Perfect point, and exactly what all those my-belief-should-be-an-exception folks don't get.
And if you owned a company in a free nation, you would be able to present a benefit package reflecting that to the labor market. Then people could decide if they wanted to work there or not.
@Bill, you imagine a fantasy world in which jobs are abundant and everyone can choose between 10 local job opportunities. That isn't how it works. People have mortgages and houses they can't sell. People live in small towns and have parents with Alzheimer's to care for and can't move. For most people finding a single job is tough...there isn't some utopian market of available jobs for most...never has been and never will be.
I don't get hobby lobby's argument at all. I never approved of the new healthcare bill; always thought it was too intrusive and over reaching, but the morning after pill hobby lobby is griping about isnt' even a form of abortion. It prevents fertilization, not implantation. Or am I mistaking it for something else?
But, they BELIEVE that it is a form of abortion. Because it is what they BELIEVE, they don't need to let pesky facts and reality get in the way.
You're missing a lot. It prevents implatation NOT fertilization.
I don't get it either! No one is forcing Hobby Lobby to have an abortion. Nor is anyone forcing their employees to have one. And inspite of the supreme court providing the same rights to corporations as real people, I doubt it would be possible for Hobby Lobby to have an abortion:. That would be doubly true if their board of directors are all men.
The FDA, with no fanfare, released a new report, dated April 30, 2011. The report indicates 14 women in the United States alone have died from using the mifepristone abortion drug and 2,207 women have been injured by it.
Of the women experiencing medical and physical problems resulting from the abortion drug, 612 women required hospitalizations, 339 experienced blood loss significant enough to require a transfusion, 256 experienced infections and 48 women experienced what the FDA labeled as “severe infections.” Given that the RU 486 abortion drug caused sepsis, a potentially lethal infection that resulted in the deaths of women from around the world, the “serious infections” were very likely life-threatening situations
A woman's body naturally prevents implantation regularly. Does that mean that her chemistry is defying God?
Oh are you going to cut and paste this and run without actually linking to the source? Are you going to become another post and run troll?
Why don't you cite the deaths from statins, antidepressants, hypertension meds, etc.?
What a dishonest quack you are.
Doesn't matter, Bill, the drug is legal. Women who take it are making an informed decision. Its safety has no bearing on this law whatsoever.
Of course, you can't make your point if you don't lie.
So what Bill is saying is that it is safer than Tylenol.
Get your medication info straight:
BillDeacon-how many unwanted, unloved children were killed or harmed in the last year by abusive parents? I suspect that number is probably much higher. So was it better for that unwanted child to have never been born, or condemned to a life sentence of abuse and its aftereffects?
For heaven's sake, a simple Google search yields this:
Aspitin causes deaths in some cases, too, Bill Deacon.
All medicine have possible side effects.
You don't get to pick and choose who takes them, based on your religious beliefs.
It's pretty simple, actually.
If you don't want to take the morning after pill, DON'T!
FFYI – Don't confuse Bill with facts.
Hey Bill, how many women die in childbirth or from pregnancy related complications every year? Is it more than 14?
"A woman's body naturally prevents implantation regularly. Does that mean that her chemistry is defying God?"
Yes, and she should be burned as a witch.
Just in case people missed it. The first page of the report being used by the pathetic Bill has this.
"These events cannot with certainty be causally attributed to mifepristone because of information gaps about patient health status, clinical management of the patient, concurrent drug use and other possible medical or surgical treatments."
This was not a controlled study, and cannot be used as a guide to prevaelnce of adverse effects from the drug.
It is truly amazing to me how we cater to everyone's religion i.e. making sure the muslims have mosques,etc., but we can't even exclude a medicine from a health insurance plan that promotes murdering unborn children. We just saw how all those children and adults were killed in the mass shooting, but thousands of unborn children are killed everyday through abortion. We as a country have strayed so far from God and his teachings. I applaud Hobby Lobby for their Christian values.
Learn what medications do. The morning after pill is an emergency contraceptive, not an abortion. Move past your moronic religious favoritism talking points.
Then why do those "Christan values" skip over the attrocities of the Chinese, where abortion is fine, and from which 90% of their cheap merchandise originate? Did I overlook Hobby Lobby's outrage on that?
I wonder how much of Hobby Lobby's materials and merchandise come from China.
I guess Toni is too stupid to realize that the "Morning after" pill actually PREVENTS a pregnancy. Which of course actually REDUCES abortions.
But it';s nice to know that she supports their moral policy of buying and selling cheap crap made my in a country who's official policy includes aborting pregnancies.
You are so moral!
I know, right? I run a chain of Vajazzling Salons employing about a 5000 people, and I believe that hay fever allergies are a sign of the blessing of the Holy Trinity of Mung, Sish, and Kib, and that to interfere with their blessing is a crime against the will of the gods. Yet Obamacare wants me to pay for the insurance with which my employees can purchase antihistamines! Help me, Supreme Court! Can't you see that my rights to keep my employees virtuously sneezing are being violated here?
I'm sure the company, oh I mean the Great Moral Authority, will never disclose that, Hawaii but wouldn't it be nice to know?
Exactly, hawaii and dan. This is a perfect picture of how ridiculous the priorities are for the fundamentally stupid.
If a vegan buys Microsoft do want all their employees to lose coverage for any medical procedure of treatment tested on animals (basically all care)? Do you want anyone working for a company owned by a Christian Scientist to be denied medical treatment? If a Jehova's Witness buys the only factory in town should everyone working there be forced to accept treatments without transfusions or opt to not work and forfeit their mortgages?
It's a pill that prevents implantation of a single cell organism, not an abortion. Why do so many people who don't even know what they are talking about have so much to say?
While Toni is expressing her "pro-life" stance, I suspect she is not anti-war, or anti-death penalty. Most "pro-lifers" tend to be selective in their application toward life. They'd revere acorns, while hacking down Oak trees.
Beautifully said, Sacto...that's been my question for years. How can you be pro-life and pro-death penalty? If you truly rever LIFE, isn't ALL life precious?
Life is precious as long as it's christian and unborn. After that: screw it.
Corporations are not people and therefore can not have faith. The owners may have faith, but when they start making health decisions for their employees based on that owners religious views, then that corporation is denying their employees the right to excercise their freedom of religion.
Metealhead85, are you kidding me??? The two issuses are completely and totally separate.
You're citing ONE case above the hundreds she ruled on, and probably the only case involving a Muslim.
First of all – this is a legal issue, not a religious one. The "pill" in question does not violate any known law regarding abortion. And if your religion teaches empathy, tolerance and respect – how about abiding by these principles for a change and not forcing your antiquated views on your employees. Provide them insurance coverage – they're paying for a portion, and let them decide what services and medications they'll agree to or not. Who in the world are you to tell people what is right for them? If you don't agree then don't use the pill...but don't make that decision for someone else. And, while you're at it, why not grow up and stop believing in invisible friends. Or do you also still believe in Santa, The Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and require a man-made construct to guide your own way of thinking? Use your brain, read a little, use the bible as an allegory for how to live a just life instead of an owner's manual.
All health insurers and companies that are self-insured and use health insurers to administer their health care programs exclude various medications for various reasons (mostly cost) from their formularies. Employers like Hobby Lobby are not saying that employees that use products like the "morning after" pill can't work for them. They're only saying that they don't want to be compelled to pay for services/medicines that are against their religious beliefs. Many employees, depending on the state, are "at will" employees, meaning that the employer can fire them at any time without cause. Hobby Lobby should be free to exclude services/medicines from their health insurance programs, if they wish. Employees are not forced to work at Hobby Lobby nor are they compelled to accept company-sponsored health insurance. The employee is free to use the "morning after" pill, but Hobby Lobby doesn't want to encourage its use by paying for it.
Inciteful: "Hobby Lobby should be free to exclude services/medicines from their health insurance programs, if they wish."
No, they shouldn't. If they believed that employees should work Monday through Saturday, more than 40 hours per week, they shouldn't be allowed to do that either since it violates federal labor laws. Granting exemptions from various laws to certain businesses based on religious views just opens the door to chaos. That's why we have laws in the first place. They aren't optional.
If you have either
1. a scientifically baseless view on a matter, such as intelligent design;
2. a morally indefensible position on a social issue, such as opposing equal gay rights; or
3 a general ignorance of science or natural history
Then chances are better than 90% that you are a practicing Christian. This is, unfortunately a fact. Of course, not all Christians are ignorant and morally backward, but virtually all morally backward and scientifically ignorant people identify as Christians. Just like virtually no Muslims are terrorists, but virtually all terrorists are Muslim.
Agree 100%. As a Christian, it pains me to see how ignorant some Christians can be
Well, I'm a scientist, and even I will admit to having a general ignorance on many things in science.
SPF- that is not inconsistent with anythhing I said.
I would say that you are a practicing moron, but I can't. You're darn good at it.