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Health Care

Justice Sotomayor Leaves Contraceptives Mandate in Health Care Act Intact

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Dec. 26 refused to block enforcement of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's mandate that profit-making companies begin providing free birth control for women workers on Jan. 1 (Hobby Lobby Stores Inc., et al. v. Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, et al., No. 12A644, U.S Sup.).

Ruling on an application for an injunction filed before her as circuit justice for the 10th Circuit, Justice Sotomayor said Hobby Lobby Stores Inc., Mardel Inc. and five family members who indirectly own and control those corporations do not qualify for a court order against the mandate while they challenge the requirement in court.

Hobby Lobby is an arts and crafts retail chainstore with more than 13,000 employees in more than 500 stores nationwide. Mardel is a chain of Christian-themed bookstores with 372 full-time employees in 35 stores. Employees of the two corporations and their families receive health insurance from the cor­porations' self-insured group health plans.

More than 40 lawsuits have been filed against the requirement to provide contraceptives. Hobby Lobby and Mardel argued that they will face fines of up to $1.3 million for each day they fail to obey the mandate.

An Oklahoma federal judge and the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals refused Hobby Lobby and Mardel's requests to bar enforcement of the mandate.

Click here to read Justice Sotomayor's ruling.

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