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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

Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. will shift the beginning of its employee health plan to temporarily stave off potentially millions of dollars in fines while its legal challenge to a federal mandate on emergency contraceptives proceeds.

The shift will allow Hobby Lobby to dodge penalties for several months that are part of the Affordable Care Act, the company said Thursday. The health care law requires the company to cover the cost of the emergency contraceptives for its employees or face up to $1.3 million in fines each day it fails to comply with the law, beginning at the inception of their insurance plan year.

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.

Religious beliefs

Company founder and CEO David Green and his family consider some types of emergency contraceptives, including the morning-after and week-after pill, a type of abortion.

Covering the contraceptives through the company's employee health plan would conflict with the Green family's constitutionally protected religious beliefs, attorneys for the company have argued.

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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 University 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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