What Hobby Lobby's case could have in store for religious freedom and ACA

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  • Stephen R Berkeley, CA
    March 25, 2014 4:44 p.m.

    Not so long ago thousands of men, women and children were in iron lungs fighting for their life. Polio ravaged America and fear gripped the land. Measles killed children, mumps caused sterility and rubella created terrible birth defects. All these diseases were wiped out with vaccines. Now "religious" objections are being raised in ever increasing numbers of America families against vaccines due to misguided fears about autism and other alleged side effects of vaccines. None of these side side effects have been proven scientifically. Herd immunity is falling so that the small percentage of vaccinees who don't get a brisk antibody response are at risk of contracting diseases that spread in the population. Uptake of newer vaccines that can prevent cervical cancer in women are pushed aside due to ignorance fear and "religious objections".
    How many will have to die, be deformed or crippled for life in the name of so-called religion? The Supreme Court may strike a blow for what it considers religious freedom while denying basic constitutional freedoms to everyone else. It is hard to believe that is what our forefathers had in mind when they came to America.

  • funny_guy Vacaville, CA
    March 25, 2014 12:36 p.m.

    The U.S. Supreme Court recognized corporations have the same rights as a natural person to enter contracts and to enforce contracts since Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Woodward – 17 U.S. 518 (1819).

    Therefore, health insurance is a contract, in this instance, between Hobby Lobby and an authorized ACA provider. They have the legal right not to participate on grounds of religious conviction. This administration is, once again, abusing their authority by misinterpreting and manipulating the law -- as they did when arguing Obamacare was a tax during court, contrary to their insistence it wasn't before passage.

    In a broader sense, why should employers be forced to purchase health insurance for their employees? Employees should receive an honest day's pay for an honest day's work -- period. Health coverage should be a personal choice, just as life insurance and auto insurance are up to the individual.

  • fourdigger nephi, UT
    March 25, 2014 7:40 a.m.

    My question is does the employees of these company s want the options of the birth control or not and do they have the same religious outlook as their employer. I think the employees should get a vote in the matter since it effects them the most not just the employers getting the say in the whole matter.

  • raybies Layton, UT
    March 25, 2014 7:25 a.m.

    Foolish Faith-people. You don't need a conscience when you have the federal government to tell you what to think.

  • techpubs Sioux City, IA
    March 25, 2014 7:04 a.m.

    Since all of us require proper nutrition and exercise to keep us healthy and reduce health costs the ACA needs to be amended to ensure that it happens.
    All employers must now provide a minimum of two nutritious meals to all employees and their families. They must also provide every employee and his/her family with a health club membership so that they can obtain 2 hours of exercise daily.

    To those of you that consider this to be ridiculous I would remind you that this is basically the same as mandating that employers not only provide health insurance but that it must cover specific items for all employees. And just think of how much this will reduce doctor visits and hospital stays by reducing obesity and the potential for diabetes as well as other diseases.

  • The Rock Federal Way, WA
    March 24, 2014 11:17 p.m.

    If you want a cold, impersonal, one size fits all monopoly controlling your health care, sure, go for single payer.

    If you want a system that works then do the following:
    1. Require that employers cash their employees out of their health care system. (Give them a raise equal to what they spend on health care.)
    2. Move to high deductible insurance. The rest can be paid for on a fee for service basis.
    3. Create real medical savings accounts.
    4. Require all health care providers to charge everyone the same price and post their rates so you can shop around.
    5. Do something about emergency room fraud. No more gaming the system.
    6. Charge people more for behavior related coverage. If you smoke, over eat, have multiple sex partners, you pay more.


    People spend their own money a lot differently than they spend other people's money.
    There is an army of paper pushers at both insurance companies and medical clinics because everything now goes through insurance. Get rid of them.
    You would find that insurance rates would drop to about $250 per month for a family of four and they would have the money to pay their deductibles.

  • JSB Sugar City, ID
    March 24, 2014 10:33 p.m.

    1. Why in the world should it be the legal obligation of a business to provide health care for its employees? It should be a benefit like lots of other benefits that are worked out by the employer and the employees. Some people feel an overwhelming compulsion to control every facet of everyone's life. I don't understand it but it's going to crush our economy.

    2. Just today I talked to a friend on Medicare. Medicare has approved a brace for her back but her Obamacare approved health care insurance company keeps delaying (two months now). She got better service before Obamacare. The theory is just keep putting old people off and eventually the old will painfully die off from neglect and it will save Social Security a lot of money.

    3. My daughter's family is paying double what they paid for insurance before Obamacare and has a much higher deductible under Obamacare. They're not happy about it. I don't blame them.

    4. In the next election this should be the theme all over the nation: "Don't vote for anyone that voted for Obamacare."

  • bandersen Saint George, UT
    March 24, 2014 9:56 p.m.

    Hutterite: I suggest some study about how the free market actually operates, rather than trying to make sense of something by integrating a failed system like Socialized medicine with free market economics! They don't mix. Making healthcare similar to the interstate highway system is like wanting to apply the principles of family life to the mafia! People complain about the hospitals, doctors, and the pharmaceutical industry, but don't understand that it is the lack of free market economics that created it and the corruption of public officials that keeps it flourishing! As for the truly indigent, taking care of their needs either through charity or government help is so minuscule to hardly be mentioned, but with which the progressives trot out for the reason to destroy it for 99 percent of the rest. Government is the worst form of "charity" devised by man. Is it any wonder that both the Democratic and Republican parties are disappearing to an independent and Libertarian block that knows better! Government is not the solution, no matter how charitable one wants to be with other peoples money! It is an absolute lie of epic proportions!

  • Lagomorph Salt Lake City, UT
    March 24, 2014 6:14 p.m.

    Could someone please explain to me how exactly the "religion" of a corporation is determined? Is it the religion of a majority of the stockholders? Is it the religion of the board of directors? Of the executive leadership/management? I suspect that for a private corporation like Hobby Lobby, these are all essentially the same people, but what about publicly traded corporations? What is the religion of Exxon-Mobil or Microsoft? Does a majority of shareholders have to have the same religion, or will a simple plurality do? What about conglomerates-- does the religion of the parent company rule or the subsidiary? Say a successful Utah tech startup (predominantly LDS) is acquired by Google. Is it still LDS? Will they serve cappuccinos or Postum at the annual meeting? Who decides? I own stock in several corporations, but in all the proxy voting and shareholder materials I have received over the years, I have never been asked for my religious views. How, then, do I know what faith the companies I invest in subscribe to?

  • Lagomorph Salt Lake City, UT
    March 24, 2014 6:08 p.m.

    The gist of the Hobby Lobby argument is that by paying premiums into an insurance plan that funds certain contraceptives, they are facilitating abortions. How is this indirect causality any different from paying taxes to the US government that provides those same contraceptives through the VA and family service agencies? How is it different from paying money to a Chinese supplier, when the supplier's taxes support China's one-child policy (never mind its likely oppressive labor practices)? Hobby Lobby seems to have taken a selective and inconsistent approach in targeting its outrage.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    March 24, 2014 5:37 p.m.

    Bandersen: Yes, I do know how much the least operation I had cost, even though it was paid for by a single payer system and didn't cost me anything except some parking charges, and incidental costs I didn't expense to my employer on the way to Calgary. As for what happens when you put 300 (350?) million people in charge of their health care decisions? A lot of bad decision making. Few of us are equipped to make those sorts of decisions and risk analysis at the best of times, let alone when we urgently need health care. The choices being made by people shouldn't be financial ones. They should be about health care, and their regimen of treatment. A single payer system delivers this nicely, because the government, hospital and pharmaceutical industry can be made entirely inconsequential to the patient treatment decision making process. They are merely suppliers and facilitators.

  • Liberty For All Cedar, UT
    March 24, 2014 4:30 p.m.

    People should understand when they are no-longer productive or a societal contributor, they should not expect FREE health care. Compassionate palliative health care for pain as they transition, but no more. Otherwise those 60 and older should pay out of pocket for their own health care.

  • KJR Alpine, UT
    March 24, 2014 3:47 p.m.

    Having lived for 17 years of my life in countries with socialized medicine programs, I can say this: the well-patient care is outstanding but it has one side effect. Everyone with a runny nose runs to the clinic. In some countries people carry thermometers instead a pen so they know when to run. On other hand, sick people die. This dramatically cuts the cost of health care. My Canadian buddy LOVED Health Canada until his mother died from highly treatable breast cancer. The statistics always show that 2/3s of the people in the UK and Canada are VERY satisfied with their national health care. Well, of course! Guess who they are. The elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about is that we are closing in on 50% of our health care dollars keeping people alive the last 6 months of their life inj the US. If it is YOU, do you want the choice to spend YOUR money to get those extra six months? Or should the "death panel" - err "healthcare allocation panel" decide. Just sayin' . . .

  • Midwest Mom Soldiers Grove, WI
    March 24, 2014 3:05 p.m.

    Oh, good grief people!

    Single payer means that everyone pays into a single pot. It's what insurance should have been. Remove the profit and have it go directly towards care. This can be accomplished in so many ways. Have a co-pay to help limit those who love white coats. Allow some alternative medicine in, which is frequently cheaper, too. Disallow pharma lobbyists from jacking up the prices here at home. And let's add funding for those orphan illnesses that don't have enough victims to make helping them profitable.

    Why are Americans so married to the idea that they get the best by entrusting their health to a profit-motivated industry? We are a wealthy nation, collectively. Not one of our brothers or sisters should suffer financial ruin just because they were unfortunate enough to also suffer disease or injury. Fear over insurance blunts creativity.

    One family I know was ruined because their insurance dropped them, due to mom's long cancer battle. After she died, no one would cover their family. Affects their ability to find work, live their dreams. Hit twice. Health care is the moral test of our time.

  • Liberty For All Cedar, UT
    March 24, 2014 2:54 p.m.

    I can go to the local emergency room and get FREE care when my children catch the flu. I only wish the wait times could be reduced or eliminated. That is the ONLY thing that needs fixing. Why fix something that in reality, ain't broke?

  • archemeedees Tooele, UT
    March 24, 2014 1:59 p.m.

    There is no such thing as a "single payer system". As defined, a single-payer system means " a system in which the government, rather than private insurers, pays for all health care costs."Excuse me, but who is the government? And where do they get their money? They aren't a magical fairy that can pull resources out of thin air and grant them to poor people. They take with poor discrimination, primarily from the middle class, and give to people they incentivize to stay poor.

  • bandersen Saint George, UT
    March 24, 2014 1:55 p.m.

    Single Payer advocates: You are all looking for a home run, instead of hitting singles! You want Babe Ruth to come to the bat instead of stepping up to the plate yourself! Those trees are so big you can't see the forest. What happens when 300 million people get involved in their health care decisions? 350 million people making their own decisions puts them in charge instead the of the doctors, hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies. Choice empowers people and puts them in charge of their financial decisions, not a doctor or hospital. Check out Keith Smith in Oklahoma for someone that runs his clinic without government intrusion and has reduced the costs dramatically. Just ask yourself one question: Do you know what the cost was of the last operation, procedure, etc. that you had a doctor perform? Of course you don't because you treat Health Care like a fitness club. Get involved and get government out of the way! Multiply the 350 million people making decisions about their healthcare and those billions of little decisions would make our system the best in the world at the lowest cost.

  • Azagthoth Clearfield, UT
    March 24, 2014 1:30 p.m.

    "But the ACA mandates four other forms, including the "morning after pill," that the Greens contend abort the fetus, which conflicts with their religious beliefs."

    Except that the morning after pill doesn't abort anything. It prevents the ovary from releasing an egg. If fertilization has already occurred this pill won't change that. The extreme right loves to wave its ignorance of science around like a banner. They understand little of it and run with false assumptions. It gets old.

  • One of a Few Layton, UT
    March 24, 2014 1:17 p.m.

    Roberts, Kennedy and maybe even Scalia, will find it difficult to give corporate employers a religious exemption. Since I was surprised Roberts saved ACA, I don't see how Hobby Lobby wins this one but stranger things have happened.

  • GaryO Virginia Beach, VA
    March 24, 2014 12:50 p.m.

    Fitness Freak - You think a single-payer would "disincentivise the healthcare delivery system?"

    Well yes and no.

    It would incentivise providers to deliver quality care that meets minimum criteria.

    And that's a good thing.

    But it would disincentivise health-care providers from over-charging patients and providing shoddy health care.

    That's a good thing too.

  • Back Talk Federal Way, WA
    March 24, 2014 12:26 p.m.

    It just shows how a little negotiation in Congress could make much of this go away. Stop forcing Religious institutions and privately held companies to provide those controversial birth control drugs and this particular problem goes away. People still get their birth control provided by the government elsewhere or they buy it themselves at a pretty moderate cost.

    I would have also liked to see the law reffered to in this article apply to businesses being allowed to "not Participate" in gay marriages if they have a sincere religious object to doing so. Not many cases actually come up for this but it would be a good support of religious liberty.

  • Meckofahess Salt Lake City, UT
    March 24, 2014 12:21 p.m.

    To: Midwest Mom
    Soldiers Grove, WI

    Thank you for your true and wise comment!

    You are totally correct, when you say "We are in danger of being enslaved by health care".

    We need to wake up and recognize that the American Healthcare System (including insurance companies) are only about making profits now. We love our Doctors and Hospitals, but it is time for us to help them understand that they can't continue to break the financial back of families and communities with the current system they provide. A single payer system would be a major step in the right direction.

  • 1covey Salt Lake City, UT
    March 24, 2014 12:12 p.m.

    I confess that to me, there are few good options. Medical costs seem to be driven by the desire to get as much money as the traffic will bear: "your money or your life". Medical procedures do not come with a warranty; the only recourse to preventable mistakes is costly litigation. Medical/health insurance contributes nothing to medical care, only to the payment of medical care; it adds to the total cost, because wages for insurance personnel have to be paid (the upper echelons are highly paid), facilities and other operating costs incurred.If stock is involved, investors expect, and rightly so, a return on their investment. Any solution will have to address these areas. Compromises will have to be made, somewhere. Will anyone be willing to make changes?

  • kristinagadfly bronx, NY
    March 24, 2014 11:57 a.m.

    First of all, this claim of paying for something that actually reduces premiums is absurd; contraception is part of an aggregate which reduces risk in providing insurance.

    Second, ACA, should have been written in such a way that simply stated all health insurance companies must provide this coverage; leaving a no-choice to anyone providing health insurance. Mandating the coverage to be "universally provided" instead of "universally obtained" opened the door for this argument.

    End this abuse of process and rewrite the language of the law...

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    March 24, 2014 11:53 a.m.

    @bandersen – “Fortunately, there are a few that can't be fooled by the charade and want to return Health Care and every other individual choice back to where it has always belonged, with the individual.”

    For the sake of argument, let’s assume that the market for healthcare is similar to the market for toasters, and will respond to all the market forces affected by individual choice. [By the way, it’s not the same and won’t respond the way you think, but I’ll ignore that for now.]

    If the laissez faire, free market approach is the best option available for creating the world’s best healthcare system, surely we can find one country in the developed world that has this model.

    If you can show us this model in the real world – since we should all value evidence over ideology – I will be happy to consider your view.

    If I’m wrong in believing healthcare is unique and will not respond to market forces to produce the outcomes we desire (low cost, high quality, high access), then I don’t want to be wrong any longer than necessary.

  • Fitness Freak Salt Lake City, UT
    March 24, 2014 11:27 a.m.

    The problem with "single-payer" (government)healthcare is that it would disincentivise the healthcare delivery system.

    How would Dr.'s be paid? On a "per visit" basis? If so, what would stop a Dr. from seeing 50 patients per hr, with (obviously)very little time spent with each patient, yet being paid for ALL of them?

    Conversely, what would stop the government from putting a myriad of "extra" Dr.'s in hospitals based on the residents' political leanings?

    How much MORE of our paycheck are we willing to give up (for those of us still working)to provide for not only our own, but everyone who couldn't afford healthcare? 25%, 35%, 50%?

    The whole issue of medical ethics comes into question also. Do we REALLY want to leave it to the government panelists to determine who gets treatment, and the extent of that treatment? The same for medications. The same for medicines that are prohibitively expensive. Would the pharmaceutical industry STILL produce medicines that nobody can afford, or would the government just decide to pay for "any and all"?

  • bandersen Saint George, UT
    March 24, 2014 11:16 a.m.

    Happy Valley Heretic: Not even close! I hold Republican efforts in equal disdain as Democratic efforts. Unfortunately, as long as people look to "Republican" or "Democratic" answers, the charade, subterfuge, and spiraling costs will continue! Fortunately, there are a few that can't be fooled by the charade and want to return Health Care and every other individual choice back to where it has always belonged, with the individual. The only reason why Democratic and Republican followers don't even understand the alternative is they are stuck in the mindset created by their Democratic and Republican Wizards behind the curtains. How does one change something when there isn't a choice? Irony is the difference between reality and the appearance of reality. Democrat and Republican followers see no irony, which becomes dramatic irony for those watching the show!

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    March 24, 2014 11:13 a.m.

    Bandersen: Yes, choice can exist and certainly does exist under the so called all powerful government. I know because I personally benefit from such a scheme. You can choose whether or not you want to go to the doctor, to which doctor you wish to go, what treatment to seek, and whether to ignore the process entirely. Choices you might lose are ones you probably should not have to begin with, such as the choice of whether or not you should seek treatment based on whether you can afford it, whether or not to participate in the health care system when you're young and invincible even though you may well need it then and certainly should support it throughout your life because you WILL need it at some time, and whether or not to be an uninsured burden in the emergency room because you thought you would never need insurance. We should be allowed the choice of opting out of the scheme entirely if and only if people stop getting sick and dying.

  • slcdenizen t-ville, UT
    March 24, 2014 11:04 a.m.

    @ bandersen

    You're making the assumption that you value the free market more than those in favor of the single payer system. We, as a society, have designated certain products as necessary utilities, enabling high regulation and often monopolistic features to accommodate low requirements for access. Examples include electricity, natural gas, and telephone services. When there exists a product as universal as heating or lighting one's home, the best option is to compile resources and allocate fairly absent the primary focus of profitability. If you are pushing to open up all utility services to competition and the free market, that's a different conversation altogether. If not, then simply think of single-payer advocates as pushing to include access to health resources as a common good with little to no restrictions like income level, existing health condition, and age.

  • Happy Valley Heretic Orem, UT
    March 24, 2014 10:09 a.m.

    bandersen said:
    "How about the right of an individual to choose his/her health care on an open market"

    Pretty much what we had before, wasn't it?
    How was that working? My premiums we're going up 10% to 20% a year.
    Crossing state lines would do nothing except create a bigger monopoly.
    Tort reform, except for those worth more (on paper at the bank) they could sue for more, always found it's way into republican tort bills.

    Single payer system would be best.

  • Tekakaromatagi Dammam, Saudi Arabia
    March 24, 2014 9:25 a.m.

    I think we should have a single payer system. But so far no one has volunteered. The closest it has come is that the government should borrow a lot of money to be paid in the future by some single payer or group of single payers who have yet to be determined or even born for that matter.

  • bandersen Saint George, UT
    March 24, 2014 9:17 a.m.

    How about the right of an individual to choose his/her health care on an open market, as compared to a single payer system? All of you that trump choice surely can understand why others want "choice" in health care, or do you? Does "choice" only exist under the arm of the all powerful Government? Where is the liberty in that? I'm all ears?

  • Lagomorph Salt Lake City, UT
    March 24, 2014 9:01 a.m.

    Article: "Starr agreed that, for example, the law protects a kosher butcher serving observant Jews or a halal meat market catering to Muslims, from being mandated to sell pork products, which are prohibited in both religions."

    A more apropos example would be the kosher/halal butcher being required to pay into a meat industry cooperative marketing pool (along with all other butchers), some small portion of which might be used to promote pork consumption. The butcher is not required to sell or consume pork himself, nor advertise pork himself. Nor would the ad pool necessarily ever produce an ad promoting pork. But there is a possibility the kosher/halal butcher might indirectly through the pooled, commingled payments of all butchers, support the promotion of pork. No one is forcing Hobby Lobby or its employees to use contraceptives, only to pay into pooled insurance that an employee might use for contraception.

    If such indirect financial connection to an activity perceived as against one's religion is granted legal protection by the court, I can't wait to see the Quakers and other pacifists of faith lining up to withhold the portion of their federal income taxes that supports the military.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    March 24, 2014 8:55 a.m.

    Mom's got it right...the burden of this choice shouldn't even exist for employers. Nor should the right. Health care is for people, not employers.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    March 24, 2014 8:38 a.m.

    No matter what side you favor, I just don’t see how the SC rules in favor of Hobby Lobby without overturning decades of precedent including Scalia’s majority opinion in Employment Division v Smith.

    But assuming the five conservatives on the Court desperately want to side with Hobby Lobby, it will be entertaining to watch the twisted logic and mental gymnastics they employ to do so.

  • Midwest Mom Soldiers Grove, WI
    March 24, 2014 8:23 a.m.

    This could all be resolved if employee benefits weren't the main source of health care in this country. Allow the creation of a single payer system, let people opt in and watch the stampede. I get a kick out of my older relatives who rail against "government" health care, but ran as fast as they could to get their Medicare.

    Here's the thing. Pay continues to decline and the cost of medical care skyrockets disproportionately. We are in danger of being enslaved by health care. Many are there already.

    Insurance should have been the answer, but there is no true shared risk any more. It's just another business that works to maximize profit. Once again, we could solve these problems if America would come together. If all the hot air that is expressed in venom could be redirected towards answers, what a powerful nation we could become.

    America, stop worshiping the golden calf and start seeing the value in our brothers and sisters.