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Hobby Lobby shifts health plan to avoid potential penalties in contraception case

Oklahoma City-based retailer Hobby Lobby, which is battling a federal requirement that it cover forms of contraception its owners find objectionable, has moved back the annual start date of its health care plan to avoid potential penalties of up to $1.3 million a day.
by Brianna Bailey Modified: January 10, 2013 at 9:24 pm •  Published: January 10, 2013

The federal government contends that religious freedoms don't apply to the company, because it is a secular, for-profit corporation.

On Dec. 26, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor blocked Hobby Lobby's emergency request for an injunction to protect the company from federal fines while its court case proceeds.

Case is pending

The company has since said that it would incur the hefty fines rather than provide insurance coverage for the contraceptive pills. Hobby Lobby's court case is now pending at the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

On Monday, attorneys for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services filed a motion to have Hobby Lobby's case heard on the same day by the same panel of judges as that of a Colorado heating and ventilation company that filed a similar challenge to the health care mandate.

Hearing the cases together would save time and expense, and ensure consistent rulings, the federal government's attorneys argued in the motion.

Both Hobby Lobby and the Colorado company, Hercules Industries Inc., are expected to challenge the federal government's request, according to court documents.

“We have been advised by the plaintiffs in both cases that they will oppose this motion,” the federal attorneys said in the filing. “It is difficult to understand, however, how they could claim prejudice from an order that would assign related cases to the same panel.”

by Brianna Bailey
Business Writer
Brianna Bailey has lived in Idaho, Germany and Southern California, but Oklahoma is her adopted home. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the Univerisity of Oklahoma and has worked at several newspapers in Oklahoma and Southern...
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Hobby Lobby does not provide coverage for abortion-inducing drugs in its health care plan. Hobby Lobby will continue to vigorously defend its religious liberty and oppose the mandate and any penalties.”

Peter Dobelbower,
Corporate general counsel

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