Avoiding Obamacare

Taking a cue from commercial establishments, one Pennsylvania community college, the Community College of Allegheny County, apparently plans to avoid providing Obamacare-required employee health insurance by cutting back professors’ hours.

According to an article by Mary Niederberger of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Temporary part-time employees received an email notice from [Community College of Allegheny County’s President Alex] Johnson Mr. Johnson on Tuesday informing them that the new health care act defines full-time employees as those working 30 hours or more per week. As a result, the college as of Dec. 31 will reduce temporary part-time employee hours to 25 per week. For adjuncts, the workload limit will be reduced from 12 to 10 credits per semester.

The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) requires any company with more than 50 full-time employees to provide health insurance coverage to those employees. However, the law also defines “full-time” employees as those working more than 30 hours a week. That’s about 20 percent of the academic staff at CCAC.

CCAC spokesman David Hoovler explained to Niederberger that while, “we certainly respect the contribution that these temporary employees make to this institution, this is just a step we have to take and we are confident we are well within the provisions of the act.”

The move will save the community college about $6 million. In 2012 CCAC received $25.5 million from Allegheny County. County executives have proposed cutting that amount by more than $1 million.

This particular policy choice may be “within the provisions of the act,” but it’s good for no one at all affiliated with the community college. According to the article about 400 adjunct faculty (who currently receive no health care from their employer) will have hours reduced. This will not only continue to result in no health care; they will no have the added problem of less actual money.

With community colleges increasingly low on cash this is likely something we’re going to see at colleges across the country in coming years.

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Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer