The craft store chain Hobby Lobby, with a total of 514 stores in 41 states, is refusing to provide contraception in employee healthcare coverage despite the fact that the Affordable Care Act requires such coverage, and without copays. They also have said that they are going to try and change when the new health care kicks in for their employees.
Hobby Lobby is founded and run by evangelical Christians, and they have a history of fighting and opposing Obamacare, mostly because of the contraception. Despite the fact that the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act and the contraceptive care mandate, Hobby Lobby has said they will refuse to provide what they called “abortion pills” (we know they’re not, but I’m tired of trying to convince those whose minds are made up) despite the $1.3 million fine each day they do not comply.
NewsOK, an affiliate of the Oklahoman, reports on the decision:
“They’re not going to comply with the mandate,” said Kyle Duncan, general counsel of The Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty, which is representing the company. “They’re not going to offer coverage for abortion-inducing drugs in the insurance plan.”
As for the potential fines, Duncan said, “We’re just going to have to cross that bridge when we come to it.”
The Green family, owners of Hobby Lobby and Mardel, filed a lawsuit in September challenging part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. They said a provision dealing with insurance coverage for certain types of contraception — the morning-after pill, the week-after pill and some intrauterine devices — went against the family’s beliefs. The Greens believe those types of contraception could cause abortions.
The founder/CEO is also reported to have said, “Our family is now being forced to choose between following the laws of the land that we love or maintaining the religious beliefs that have made our business successful and supported our family and thousands of our employees and their families. We simply cannot abandon our religious beliefs to comply with this mandate.”
That’s from back in September, though. More recently, Hobby Lobby has decided to delay the start of its health care plan because doing so will temporarily stop monetary penalties while they continue to fight against paying for contraception. They’ve refused to publicly state how long it will be until health insurance does start for the employees, saying
“Hobby Lobby does not provide coverage for abortion-inducing drugs in its health care plan,” corporate general counsel Peter Dobelbower said in a statement. “Hobby Lobby will continue to vigorously defend its religious liberty and oppose the mandate and any penalties,” he said.
This opposition, in reality, makes very little sense, as pointed out by Think Progress:
In fact, Obamacare’s contraception mandate doesn’t require Hobby Lobby to provide coverage for any of the “abortion-inducing drugs” that its owners so vehemently oppose. Under the health reform law, employees are guaranteed coverage for emergency contraception, commonly known as Plan B, which does not actually induce abortion.
Nevertheless, Hobby Lobby won’t simply stop at breaking the law and risking incurring $474.5 million in annual fines — far more than the cost of simply providing health plans without co-pays for birth control. The craft store also doesn’t want to be held accountable for the consequences of its decision to play politics with its employees’ health coverage.
In the end, Hobby Lobby will have to pay for contraception or face the fines. The Supreme Court has already upheld that, and they are running out of legal options. Running up court costs while denying healthcare coverage to employees because a small part of what you’re paying for is thought to do something it doesn’t (complicated and pointless) doesn’t seem like a smart business decision to me, but then again, evangelical Christians don’t make a whole lot of sense to me in any case.
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