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Court Strikes Limited Blow Against Obamacare Contraception Mandate

 
 
Miller
 
Reply Mon 30 Jun, 2014 07:26 pm
Court strikes limited blow against Obamacare contraception mandate
Posted 10:58 am, June 30, 2014, by CNNwire

Contraceptive Pills

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that closely held companies cannot be required to pay to cover some types of contraceptives for their employees, ending its term with a narrow legal and political setback for a controversial part of President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law.

The owners of Hobby Lobby, furniture maker Conestoga Wood Specialties and Christian bookseller Mardel argued that the Affordable Care Act violates the First Amendment and other federal laws protecting religious freedom because it requires them to provide coverage for contraceptives like the “morning-after pill,” which the companies consider tantamount to abortion.

The decision, which comes two years after the justices narrowly preserved the Affordable Care Act and its key funding provision, could serve as a primer for other pending challenges to the health law.

The issue before the justices was whether Obamacare can mandate contraception coverage specifically for certain businesses that object for religious reasons.

“This case isn’t that practically important, except for the employees and businesses involved. There just aren’t a huge number of those,” said Thomas Goldstein, publisher of SCOTUSblog.com and a Washington appellate attorney.

“But everyone can agree the social questions presented — about when people can follow their religious convictions, and when people are entitled to contraception care — are truly important,” he said.

Contraception mandate

The section of law in dispute requires for-profit employers of a certain size to 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 so-called “morning-after” pill, as causing abortion.

The specific question presented was whether these companies can refuse, on the sincere claim it would violate their owners’ long-established moral beliefs.

The First Amendment says that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

“How does a corporation exercise religion?” asked Justice Sonia Sotomayor at March’s oral arguments, summarizing perhaps the key constitutional question at hand.

“This is a religious question and it’s a moral question,” added Justice Samuel Alito, suggesting the businesses have such a right. “You want us to provide a definitive secular answer.”

Conestoga, Hobby Lobby

The justices have a good deal of discretion to frame the competing issues and could reach a limited “compromise” through narrow statutory interpretation.

They could conclude individual owners can make the religious freedom claim, bypassing the corporate rights argument, but still give female workers the flexibility to get covered drugs.

The court weighed two related appeals from Conestoga Wood Specialties, a Pennsylvania cabinet maker, and Hobby Lobby, an Oklahoma-based retail giant that will have more than 700 arts-and-crafts stores nationwide by year’s end.

Both corporations emphasized their desire to operate in harmony with biblical principles while competing in a secular marketplace. That includes their leaders’ publicly stated opposition to abortion.

The case presented a complex mix of legal, regulatory, and constitutional concerns over such thorny issues as faith, abortion, corporate power, executive agency discretion, and congressional intent.

Health law impact

The political stakes are large, especially for the future effectiveness of the health law, which marks its fourth anniversary this year.

The botched rollout last fall of HealthCare.gov, the federal Obamacare website, has become another political flashpoint along with other issues that many Republicans say proves the law is unworkable.

They have made Obamacare a key campaign issue in their fight to overtake the Senate, and retain control of the House.

Supporters of the law fear a high court setback on the contraception mandate 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.

The abortion link

The Hahn family, owners of Conestoga, and the Green family, owners of Hobby Lobby, said some of the mandated contraception prevent human embryos from being implanted in a woman’s womb, which the plaintiffs equate with abortion.

That includes Plan B contraception, which some have called the “morning after” pill, and intrauterine devices or IUDs used by an estimated 2 million American women.

A key issue for the bench was interpreting a 1993 federal law requiring the government to seek the “least burdensome” and narrowly tailored means for any law that interferes with religious convictions.

Monday’s decision comes two years after the justices allowed the law’s “individual mandate” to go into effect.

That provision requires most Americans to get health insurance or pay a financial penalty. It is seen as the key funding mechanism to ensure near-universal health coverage.

Under the Affordable Care Act, financial penalties of up to $100 per day, per employee can be levied on firms that refuse to provide comprehensive health coverage. Hobby Lobby, which has about 13,000 workers, estimates the penalty could cost it $475 million a year.

The church-state issue now in the spotlight involves rules negotiated between the Obama administration and various outside groups. Under the changes, churches and houses of worship are completely exempt from the contraception mandate.

Other nonprofit, religiously affiliated groups, such as church-run hospitals, parochial schools and charities must either offer coverage or have a third-party insurer provide separate benefits without the employer’s direct involvement. Lawsuits in those cases are pending in several federal appeals courts.

Second generation

Monday’s decision could signal how the court will approach other lawsuits against the health care law.

“We’re now getting the second generation of challenges to Obamacare– about the actual adoption of the statute, and its core provisions,” said Goldstein. “We’re probably going to see cases over the next five to ten years, as more and more details about the law get put into effect.

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Type: Discussion • Score: 5 • Views: 2,099 • Replies: 31
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BillRM
 
  1  
Reply Mon 30 Jun, 2014 08:54 pm
@Miller,
Interesting that the owners of a business religion believes now out weight the rights of women to access the medical treatments that they desire.

One wonder what the court will do when it come to those owners who do not believes in any part of modern medicine....LOL

I would think that if the SC is not going to protect us from businesses like Hobby Lobby that exercising the right to drive such firms out of business by boycott would be the next step.
Miller
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Jul, 2014 01:19 am
@BillRM,
BillRM wrote:

...the rights of women to access the medical treatments that they desire.


Women can still "access the medical treatments" they desire. They just have to pay for these treatments themselves or pay for an insurance plan that will pay for these benefits.

farmerman
 
  2  
Reply Tue 1 Jul, 2014 04:33 am
@Miller,
bet thisll lead to cases from businesses run by Chritian SCientists or Jhovah's Witnesses wwherein they wish to opt out of care for almost any medication or invasive procedure.

Other than that, I guess the insurance policies will have to cover this and I suppose the businesses will have to consider how they will develop a cafeteria style coverage.
0 Replies
 
BillRM
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Jul, 2014 05:39 am
@Miller,
Quote:
Women can still "access the medical treatments" they desire. They just have to pay for these treatments themselves or pay for an insurance plan that will pay for these benefits.


Yes sir and without any insurance coverage at all we all could paid for all our medical care up to heart transplants or so I would assume by your theory.
Miller
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Jul, 2014 09:00 am
@BillRM,
Teens can afford condoms, so why shouldn't adults afford them?
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Jul, 2014 10:32 am
@Miller,
The one thing I do agree with. A private company should be able to provide whatever benefits it would like. They should have rights same as anyone. An individual has the right not to work for this company. As long as they are clear up front on what an employees benefits are, a potential employee will look at the entire benefits package including pay, insurance, vacation, etc. to see if it is worth it for them to take such employment. If it is very important for them to have this day after pill benefit for example, they are free to work elsewhere.

As an aside -- when Obamacare went into place, I got free birth control pills - bonus you think, well my healthcare insurance went up more than a hundred dollars a month; my prior monthly birth control pills were $10 a month. These "free"" birth control pills did not appear so free any more -- I would have prefered to pay for them and have my monthly premiums stay the same.
BillRM
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Jul, 2014 10:37 am
@Miller,
This ruling cover far more then birth control as if the ownership of a small business have a religion problem with covering any aspect of modern medical treatment I do not see that they would need to cover those areas.

The business religion believes are far more important then the health of their employees.

0 Replies
 
BillRM
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Jul, 2014 10:43 am
@Linkat,
Quote:
A private company should be able to provide whatever benefits it would like.


So minimal wages laws, overtime laws and child labor laws and family leaves laws and so on should be done away with along with work place safety rules and on and on should be done away with in your opinion?
BillRM
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Jul, 2014 11:10 am
@Linkat,
Quote:
An individual has the right not to work for this company.


An a business owner if he does not care for the society rules/laws concerning being a business owner is free to sell that business to someone else as there is no right to own and operate a business outside of the laws on how you should treat your employees.
Linkat
 
  0  
Reply Tue 1 Jul, 2014 01:15 pm
@BillRM,
You are overexaggerating. I am talking basic benefits. This is nothing to do with child labor laws, family leave and safety issues - those are different items.

As far as minimum wage - no I don't believe there should be. It is not needed -- the markets will dictate this - if you can go across the street and get a job for more money, then you will. Companies every day compete for employees -- how do they attract the best and brightest? By compensating them with salary and benefits. It is basic economics.

Other than in cases where there is a monoply. That is where unions come into play---they negotiate to provide these sorts of things -- think of places like the post office which is a monoply. They have unions to even the playing field - which is why unions originally came into being.

I do not want or need some company or government to dictate to me what sort of benefits I should have and what pay I should have. I can negotiate that myself with a potential employer and have done so. If I receive an offer of a position I get all details of salary/bonus/benefits upfront in writing and from there determine if I will accept. If I do not want or need health insurance for example, maybe I can negiotate a higher salary as the company will save on this (hubby did so as I had insurance via my employer). Why can't a business do the same? If they fail to offer what the hobby shop does across the street, then this potential employee can walk across the street and get that job.

Not all packages fit everyone's situation. By providing too many requirements, you restrict both businesses and potential employees. If Fred rather not have the day after pill and thus the business can provide an insurance that costs less, maybe Fred could get a slightly higher salary or maybe cash compensation. I've experienced businesses offering a bonus for those that do not require health insurance as a spouse is already covered. Not every person or business situation is the same.
0 Replies
 
Linkat
 
  0  
Reply Tue 1 Jul, 2014 01:17 pm
@BillRM,
BillRM wrote:

Quote:
An individual has the right not to work for this company.


An a business owner if he does not care for the society rules/laws concerning being a business owner is free to sell that business to someone else as there is no right to own and operate a business outside of the laws on how you should treat your employees.


And hobby lobby or whatever the company name was going to close up shop rather than go against their beliefs. They have every right to do so.

Could you explain why shutting down a successful business where employees were happy with their compensation is helpful for the country? Losing additional jobs where employees were happy with their compensation that did not include day after pill? How is that helpful?
BillRM
 
  0  
Reply Tue 1 Jul, 2014 01:29 pm
@Linkat,
Quote:
Could you explain why shutting down a successful business where employees were happy with their compensation is helpful for the country?


LOL and why would such a business be shut down instead of sold as a working firm????????

Are you claiming that the owners are that irrational?

If so are they going to burn their stock and buildings if they own them so another such firm could not just move in and buy up the assets and be up and running in a few months?
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Wed 2 Jul, 2014 06:22 am
@BillRM,
Bill do you know anything about owning a private business?

For one there is no stock. It is a privately owned business so no stock to burn as you call it. As far as buildings -- typically a business of this sort leases rather than owns the buildings as businesses of this sort are in the business to sell retail not own real estate.

Also selling a business is not going to happen over night. It can be very time consuming and difficult to sell a business even a very successful one. I, personally went through this and a family member did as well. We were unable to sell, my family member was -- but it was time consuming -- think over a year to complete the entire transaction.

Please read the company website -- they do not open on Sundays because of their beliefs -- they lose sales/profits as a result. Being privately held you can make decisions that may limit profits as you have no shareholders to please.

From the owners own words:
Green believes that the government is “forcing [them] to choose between following [their] faith and following the law.” With representation from the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, he and his family are going to court in an attempt to stop the mandate. If they are unable to do so, Green will be forced to shut down the entire Hobby Lobby franchise, because he believes honoring God is more important than turning a profit. "

So you may be LOLing - but whether you feel the owner is being irrational or not does not mean he would not shut down his business as a result. What I suggest would likely happen as in other businesses who can not sell or decide not to -- is they would liquidate all their assets and walk away with whatever ending cash they get from the business as happens all the time.

This business already has proven that they forgo profit over faith in closing stores on Sundays seeing Sundays tend to be the most profitable day of the week for retailers. I don't doubt the owners, whether rational or not, would close their business if forced to provide coverage for something that goes against their faith.
BillRM
 
  0  
Reply Wed 2 Jul, 2014 06:53 am
@Linkat,
So they shut down and other firms would cheerfully move into the vacuum that they would had let in selling hobby supplies. Hiring as many of the train workforce of Hobby Lobby as possible would seem logical for them to do.

Firms that would be far more rational and not try to claimed the right to force their faith onto their employees.

In fact now that the SC have grant them and other such firms the ability to do so, my hope is that enough people will boycott them as to drive them out of business.

No firm should be allow to imposed their religion faith onto their employees and if thank to the SC the law is not going to stop them hopefully market forces will do so.

My guess is that far more women then men are their customers and somehow like the women on the SC I do not think they will for the most part agree with the Hobby Lobby stand on this issue and vote with their wallets.



Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Wed 2 Jul, 2014 08:21 am
@BillRM,
Quote:
No firm should be allow to imposed their religion faith onto their employees and if thank to the SC the law is not going to stop them hopefully market forces will do so.


Please explain how they are imposing their faith on their employees? They are not keeping them from any birth control or a direct abortion for that matter. They simply do not want to pay for the insurance that would pay for such things. Their employees are free to pay it on their own.

In addition Hobby Lobby employees are well paid so do not say -- but they wouldn't have enough to pay for it. Their starting wage is 80% above minimum wage - because of their faith, they pay their employees much higher and allow them to profit as well. Maybe they should forgo their faith then and just pay them min. wage better for everyone, huh.

As far as customers not wanting to buy from such a business because of the business' stance -- that is exactly what I am standing for -- freedom for all. They can certainly not purchase from this business; Hobby Lobby's employees can walk away and work elsewhere if they do not like how they are compensated and Hobby Lobby can not provide some benefits -- this is what our country is based on Freedom. And what I am promoting -- not whether the business'decision makes sense from a business/profit stand point; simply that everyone should have the same freedoms.

And that includes having a business go down the drain because it is not making smart business decisions.

The thing is -- Hobby Lobby does not hide their faith and what they believe -- almost to a fault. It is all spelled out on their website and they have been successful business-wise with employees that seem happy with how they are compensated. Who are we to tell them otherwise.

If you do not believe any of what I state - please refer here as snopes has the original article and thoughts from the CEO and founder and snopes research on what is false/true.

http://www.snopes.com/politics/medical/hobbylobby.asp
0 Replies
 
Miller
 
  1  
Reply Wed 2 Jul, 2014 09:24 am
@Linkat,
All good points.

One new problem that has arisen with Obamacare/cost is the rapidity with which insurance plans change, and with them their formulary. Many brand drugs are no longer covered by several insurance plans and instead patients are forced to take the generic version, or pay outright for the band drug at an increased cost often exceeding a rise of 150%.

This is what is called "managed care", or cost control .
0 Replies
 
Miller
 
  1  
Reply Wed 2 Jul, 2014 09:27 am
@BillRM,
The comment was made concerning health/medical plans offered by insurance companies.
0 Replies
 
Miller
 
  1  
Reply Wed 2 Jul, 2014 09:34 am
If the Hobby company decided to close it's doors, instead of offering their works better health insurance ( birth control issue), where would the workers do? If they'd have to find another job that required unskilled talent and one probably pays a minimum wage.

Moreover, all would go on unemployment and also some form of welfare/food stamps.

This would not be a good thing for either the employees or the USA.
BillRM
 
  1  
Reply Wed 2 Jul, 2014 09:54 am
@Miller,
Quote:
This would not be a good thing for either the employees or the USA.


Yes, it would be a good thing as having every religion nut who own a company deciding what medical benefits his or her employees can have accept to is a nightmare that go far beyond hobby lobby.

A few examples of what can happen to a company that does such things would well be worth the cost of some pain to hobby lobby employees in my opinion.

In any case I had shop maybe two or three times in my life at a hobby lobby but now you could not paid me to do so.
 

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