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ObamaCare v. Hobby Lobby; Hobby Lobby risks millions in fine after refusing to comply with ObamaCare's "contraception mandate". On December 26th, 2013 the Oklahoma based chain was denied an emergency appeal by the Supreme Court to get an exemption from having to provide contraception coverage to it's employees. Hobby Lobby has decided to take a stand against the ruling by refusing to comply with the law, risking over a million dollars a day in fines from the IRS.
It seems the risks paid off for the craft chain. On June 30, 2014 the supreme court ruled that Hobby Lobby did not have to provide contraception coverage. Since they will still have to provide minimum coverage that includes everything required by law, except contraception, the likely outcome will be that the portion of their premiums that go toward contraception will be subsidized. This ruling will likely have the same outcome for other for-profit businesses and help to widen the "narrowly written religious exemption" that was already in place.
The ruling does not affect availability of contraception, simply how contraception coverage through now-exempt employers will be paid for. Although contraception can be costly without coverage (about $50 a month, times 12 months is about $600) it is still available, check this article on understanding contraception costs.
There is no real ObamaCare contraception mandate, businesses aren't required to provide contraception, contraception is simply a required covered benefit of ObamaCare compliant coverage. In other words contraception is available with or without the law, the law simply required that insurance cover the costs. Hobby lobby employees will still be able to purchase contraception, they just won't have those services covered as part of their work-based plan.
Having access to a product is not the same as being required to purchase insurance that provides that product at no additional charge or co-pay. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that laws banning contraception are unconstitutional in Griswold v. Connecticut (1965).
Under the law for-profit employers who offer coverage must offer insurance benefits for birth control and other reproductive health services without a co-pay. A number of companies equate some of the covered drugs, such as the Plan B contraception ("morning-after pill"), as causing abortion as well as intrauterine devices or IUDs which are used by an estimated 2 million American women. Abortion is against the religious beliefs of some, and thus businesses don't feel they should be forced to "pay for abortions". Opponents of this train of thought believe that businesses should not be able to force their beliefs on their employees.
ObamaCare won the first battle in the Supreme Court battle between Hobby Lobby and ObamaCare. On December 26th, 2013 Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who is in charge of hearing emergency appeals for the United States Tenth Circuit, refused Hobby Lobby appeal. The chain had to comply with the law until the decision reached the Federal Court.
Hobby Lobby faced up to $1.3 million a day in fines from the IRS for not complying with the Supreme Court Decision. We don't know yet if they will have to pay the fine or will be exempt due to the ruling.
On June 30, 2014 the supreme court ruled that Hobby Lobby did not have to provide contraception coverage. Since they will still have to provide minimum coverage that includes everything required by law, except contraception, the likely outcome will be that the portion of their premiums that go toward contraception will be subsidized. This ruling will likely have the same outcome for other for-profit businesses and help to widen the "narrowly written religious exemption" that was already in place.
Supporters of the law fear the high court setback on the contraception mandate now will lead to other healthcare challenges on religion grounds, such as do-not-resuscitate orders and vaccine coverage.
More broadly, many worry giving corporations religious freedom rights could affect laws on employment, safety, and civil rights.
Hobby Lobby isn't the first company to stand up to ObamaCare's controversial provision that says that all employers must provide contraception as part of their health insurance plan. There have been several other law suites from for-profit and not-for-profit groups that have fought the law. Many had been granted injunctions, and now the official ruling means many more may follow.
At the end of the day the argument for why Hobby lobby won requires us to look at the true motives of our supreme court justices (they favor corporations now more than ever), whether religious views or science should win the day, and the rights of businesses in general. There are no easy answers.