The owners of Hobby Lobby came to the U.S. Supreme Court this week to seek relief from another Obamacare mandate. The words Obamacare and mandate have nearly become synonymous. That’s not a surprise. Washington bureaucrats have piled more than 11,000 pages of regulations on top of President Obama’s already-massive signature law. The outcome is inevitable: an enormous maze of rules, penalties, fines and taxes.
One Obamacare mandate has placed a unique burden on Hobby Lobby, and a number of other businesses. Hobby Lobby is a family-owned nationwide business, with stores and employees in our area. The company’s founders started their business in 1972 and determined to run it “in a manner consistent with biblical principles.” They pay their full-time employees an hourly wage that is more than 90% above the federal minimum wage, and they provide good health insurance.
Contrary to what you may have heard, Hobby Lobby’s company health insurance includes contraceptive coverage. The Obamacare Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate requires that employer insurance pay for 20 different types of contraceptives. Hobby Lobby has no objection to 16 of them, but four others are potentially life ending.
The Obama Administration has given millions of people exemptions from Obamacare mandates. But the administration defiantly refused to offer any relief when the family that owns Hobby Lobby explained how it would violate their deeply held religious convictions to pay for drugs or devices that could end a human life. The Obama Administration has remained obstinate on this matter and forced it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court will decide this case in the coming months. They must decide in favor of a fundamental American principle: the right of our citizens to live out their faith, even at work.
No American should be forced to check their conscience at the door just because they open a business and hire employees. But, that’s exactly what the federal government is doing with the Obamacare HHS mandate. It’s using the coercive threat of damaging fines to demand that a family-owned business submit to a mandate, even if doing so means violating the owners’ religious freedom.
If the Obama Administration were to have its way, the owners of Hobby Lobby would face daily fines in the tens of thousands of dollars. Or, there’s Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan’s idea that Hobby Lobby could stop offering quality health insurance to its employees altogether and pay an annual fine of $2,000 per employee. Thousands of employees would lose good, employer-provided coverage, and be forced to buy expensive individual Obamacare plans.
The real solution here is for the Supreme Court to simply uphold the First Amendment and protect the religious freedom upon which our nation was founded. The sincerely-held beliefs of a business owner must not be trampled on by the federal government.
Congressman John Fleming, M.D., is a family physician and business owner from Minden. He represents Louisiana’s 4th Congressional district.