The court announced Tuesday that will consider arguments in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores.
Hobby Lobby’s owners, the Green family of Oklahoma City, Okla., object to an Obamacare mandate that employers provide health insurance plans that include emergency contraception, which Hobby Lobby ownership considers abortifacients. (For the record, research from both the Mayo Clinic and the National Institutes of Health say that’s not the case.)
Hobby Lobby and its attorneys will argue before the Supreme Court that the birth-control mandate violates its religious beliefs. The question is: Can a corporation, in this case one that operates approximately 500 stores and employs 13,000 people, dictate employees’ health choices on religious grounds?
Arguing on behalf of Hobby Lobby’s ownership in a 2012 interview with National Review, Kyle Duncan, general counsel of the Becket Fund, said, “If a Hobby Lobby employee wants to use such drugs, no one — certainly not the Green family — will do a thing to stop them. There is no shortage of contraceptives in America today, and the government already spends billions a year to make sure they are accessible to anyone who wants them. All the Greens want is not to be forced to pay for abortion drugs.”
We’re back to one of the great challenges of reforming the U.S. health-care system. In the middle of the 20th century, the United States developed an employer-based system for providing coverage to Americans. It was conceived as the best way to avoid the single-payer systems that were developing across other industrialized nations in the post-World War II era.
Untangling from that employer-based system continues to be one of the many complications in implementing the Affordable Care Act.
While the politically conservative owners of Hobby Lobby might not agree, one solution to their current problem is a single-payer health insurance system. That way, Hobby Lobby wouldn’t have to worry over what their employees’ insurance did and did not cover.