The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, ruling in a case brought by the owners of Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp., based in Pennsylvania, said the mandate applies to companies, not the companies' owners, The Hill reported.
The Hahn family, which owns Conestoga, sued Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in December, alleging the mandate to cover the cost of contraception for the company's employees violated the family's Christian beliefs.
"The mandate does not impose any requirements on the Hahns," the appeals court found. "Rather, compliance is placed squarely on Conestoga. If Conestoga fails to comply with the mandate, the penalties ... would be brought against Conestoga, not the Hahns."
The Affordable Care Act exempts churches and religious-affiliated employers from the contraception mandate.
The 10 U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the family that owns the craft-store chain Hobby Lobby and the Mardel Christian bookstore chain are entitled to pursue a legal challenge of the contraception mandate. A five-judge majority agreed the businesses were likely to win the case.
The conflicting rulings may increase the chance the U.S. Supreme Court may take up the issue, The Hill said.