The craft store Hobby Lobby has been embroiled in a legal fight against Obamacare’s contraception mandate since September, when the chain’s conservative evangelical owners first sued for the right to deny their employees access to affordable contraceptives. Even though a federal judge ruled last month that Hobby Lobby must follow federal law and provide birth control coverage for its estimated 13,000 employees, the company’s owners announced that they will break the law rather than provide contraception — and now they’re also hoping to dodge the consequences for that decision.
Hobby Lobby may be subject to penalties of up to $1.3 million per day if the business doesn’t comply with Obamacare, which requires employers to cover contraceptive services without a co-pay to help eliminate the gender imbalance in health care costs. To avoid paying those fees, however, Hobby Lobby has announced it will now attempt to shift the beginning of its employees’ health plans:
A representative for Hobby Lobby declined to elaborate on how long the company will have before its new plan year will start — when the federal mandate on emergency contraceptives coverage would kick in.
“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.
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.