Obama Delays Employer Mandate, but Leaves HHS Mandate in Effect for Christian Companies

President Obama’s decision to delay the implementation of Obamacare’s employer mandate gives no relief to Christian business owners who object to providing contraception to employees as required by the Health and Human Services mandate, which remains in effect and on pace to reach the U.S. Supreme Court in the midst of the 2014 midterm elections.

The delay of the employer mandate does not affect religious people who oppose the HHS mandate. “They’re going to be subject to a different penalty,” Kyle Duncan of The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which is challenging the constitutionality of the mandate on behalf of a private company, Hobby Lobby, told the Washington Examiner. “Not the $2,000 per employee penalty that the administration has said it’s going to suspend for the year, but the $100 per employee, per day, IRS excise tax which is in a different section of the IRS code, but the administration has not said they’re going to suspend that.”

Duncan explained that “the reporting requirements that trigger the excise tax, those are different reporting requirements under different Treasury regulations; they predate the Affordable Care Act altogether.”

Michael Cannon, the Cato Institute’s health care policy expert, agreed with Duncan’s assessment. “It’s not that the Obama administration is unwilling to relax onerous mandates on employers,” he noted in an email to the Examiner. “They just don’t think religious freedom is a good enough reason.”

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