Community College Of Allegheny County will cut the hours for some instructors to avoid paying for their health insurance coverage under new Affordable Care Act rules.
CCAC President Alex Johnson announced in an email to employees last week that the school would cut course loads and hours for some 200 adjunct faculty members and 200 additional employees.
The Affordable Care Act -- nicknamed Obamacare -- classifies employees who work 30 hours or more per week as full-time, and CCAC would be required under the new law to provide employer-assisted health insurance to those employees.
Instead, temporary part-time employees, such as clerical, computer, seasonal and other positions, will be limited to working 25 hours per week, and adjunct instructors will only be able to teach 10 credits per semester. Permanent part-time employees, already eligible for health care coverage, will be unaffected. The Pittsburgh-based college estimates the move will save it from spending an additional $6 million.
"While it is of course the college’s preference to provide coverage to these positions, there simply are not funds available to do so," David Hoovler, executive assistant to the president of CCAC, told The Huffington Post. "Several years of cuts or largely flat funding from our government supporters have led to significant cost reductions by CCAC, leaving little room to trim the college’s budget further."
He noted that students have also seen "significant tuition increases" and the college had "examined various alternatives to reducing hours without finding an affordable option."
The health care law's provision affecting full-time workers doesn't kick in until 2014, but Hoovler said the college may be held accountable for compliance retroactively for up to one year.
"The federal government has not yet released some key information that would inform our response, including specific guidelines regarding adjunct instructors, so this remains a work in progress that may be modified as more information becomes available," Hoovler added.
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, CCAC previously placed a 12-credit teaching limit on adjuncts, paying $730 per credit per semester.
Inside Higher Ed explained that a reduction in hours means even professors working two jobs won't be able to get health care coverage from their employer:
Adjunct English professor Clint Benjamin, who has been teaching at the college for six years, pays out-of-pocket for catastrophic health care coverage only and had vague hopes of improved insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Not only is he now ineligible for such help, but the course load reduction will translate to up to $600 less in pay each month.
But Benjamin still will be working full-time. Between the college and nearby Duquesne University, he currently teaches seven courses per semester. He estimated he works up to 70 hours per week, but doesn't qualify for health insurance at either institution.
The new restriction from CCAC is prompting those who looking to unionize adjunct professors elsewhere to be on guard.
"[CCAC] may be complying with the letter of the law, but the letter of law and the spirit of the law are two different things," Jeff Cech, a United Steelworkers representative leading an effort to unionize adjunct professors at Duquesne University, told the Post-Gazette. "If they are doing it at CCAC, it can't be long before they do it other places."
As Pennsylvania colleges have increasingly relied on adjuncts to teach a majority of classes, New Faculty Majority, a national nonprofit group that advocates for part-time college and university faculty, is watching for cuts to teaching hours at other schools due to Obamacare.
Matt Williams, the group's vice president, told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review he hasn't seen this happen at other colleges yet, "but we expect it will happen.”
Also on HuffPost:
Tax Credits For Young Adults
According to the White House, the ACA "provides premium tax credits for young adults making up to roughly $43,000 a year to ensure that they can afford quality coverage in the new state-based Health Insurance Exchanges which start in 2014." If you don't make enough money to buy your own insurance, you can qualify for the hardship waiver.
Bans Gender Discrimination, Covers Women's Health
The ACA bans "gender rating" that allows women to be charged more for the same coverage as men. Women will also have mammograms, domestic violence screenings and birth control covered without a co-pay. And pregnancy is no longer considered a "pre-existing condition."
No Skipping Out On Insurance
Since the Supreme Court found the individual mandate constitutional, uninsured young, healthy people who <a href="http://swampland.time.com/2012/06/28/supreme-court-upholds-obamacare-in-landmark-decision/?iid=sl-main-lede?iid=tsmodule#ixzz1z6R1lR7c" target="_hplink">might've skipped out on buying insurance</a> will have to think again. The mandate kicks in in 2014. <em>Time</em> magazine's Swampland blog reports: <blockquote> These people often forgo insurance because they make the fairly good bet they won't incur expensive medical bills and because they don't have enough earning power to afford policies. Young Americans subject to the mandate are expected to pay more into the insurance pool than they get out, to help subsidize the cost of insuring older, sicker people. Standard insurance policies will likely be more expensive for these people under the ACA than they are now. </blockquote> However, this is also why lawmakers built in additional tax credits for young and poor people, and the law now allows 20-somethings to stay on their parents' insurance even after they graduate college -- up to the age of 26.
The ACA already prevents insurance companies from charging higher premiums to people under the age of 19 with pre-existing conditions. Going forward, it will forbid insurance discrimination based on pre-existing conditions for everyone, regardless of age.
Medical Students Get Help On Student Loans
The ACA gives <a href="http://campusprogress.org/articles/five_ways_the_affordable_care_act_helps_young_americans/" target="_hplink">financial support</a> for the $12 million National Health Services Corps Students-to-Service Loan Repayment Program, which will provide medical school graduates up to $120,000 to repay outstanding loans if they agree to work as primary care doctors in under-served communities. Campus Progress reports: <blockquote>The ACA also creates a Prevention and Public Health Fund, which will help create new positions for primary care doctors, fund training programs for physicians' assistants and nurse practitioners, and push states to invest in health care training and job creation.</blockquote>
The 80/20 Rule Will Improve Campus Health Plans
Most college health centers don't allow students to use outside insurance plans, however, the services they provide will improve. According to <em><a href="http://www.usnews.com/education/articles/2010/09/09/5-ways-health-reform-affects-college-students" target="_hplink">U.S. News & World Report</a></em>: <blockquote>Effective Jan. 1, 2011, all insurance plans must have a medical loss ratio that is at least 80 percent to 85 percent (depending on the plan's size). That means that at a minimum, 80 percent to 85 percent of all premiums paid by policyholders must in turn be used to provide medical care.</blockquote> Many schools had loss ratios closer to 50 percent prior to the law, but increasing that loss ratio means they're providing more through coverage. In other words, it's the "<a href="http://www.whitehouse.gov/healthreform/relief-for-americans-and-businesses#young-adults" target="_hplink">80/20 rule</a>": insurance companies (and colleges providing health services) must spend at least 80 cents of your premium dollar on your health care or improvements to care. Insurance companies must also publicly justify their actions if they want to raise premiums by 10 percent or more, according to the White House. The reform law also bans insurance companies and colleges from placing lifetime caps on coverage.
Preventative Services Are Covered
If you're healthy and work to stay healthy, you can avoid more dramatic health issues down the line. A large number of <a href="http://www.healthcare.gov/news/factsheets/2010/07/preventive-services-list.html" target="_hplink">preventative services</a> are now covered thanks to the ACA, but a few are worth pointing out for college students: Alcohol misuse screening and counseling, Depression screening, Type 2 Diabetes screening, HIV screening, immunization vaccines, STI prevention counseling, tobacco use screening and intervention, cervical cancer screening and contraception coverage.
Catholic Colleges Can't Make You Buy Health Insurance That Doesn't Cover Everything
Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke sparked a debate over whether Catholic colleges should be required to provide contraception coverage for students it requires to purchase health insurance. Georgetown has irked many of its students for years by requiring them to <a href="http://studentaffairs.georgetown.edu/insurance/" target="_hplink">purchase health care plans</a> that do not cover things like contraception. The Obama administration declared insurance plans have to provide free contraception, including the "morning-after pill." Catholic<a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/15/us-usa-politics-contraception-idUSBRE84E1FK20120515" target="_hplink"> colleges have revolted by saying it violates</a> the teachings of their church to provide this, although women often take birth control for health reasons that have nothing to do with their sexual activity. Some have opted to drop their coverage rather than comply with the new federal law. However, to <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/health/2012/05/17/486102/ave-maria-university-drops-student-insurance/" target="_hplink">accommodate religious institutions</a>, the regulation is structured so that they do not have to actually be the ones paying for contraception.
Aim To Improve LGBT Community Health
Under the ACA, there will be <a href="http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2012/03/aca_top_10_lgbt.html" target="_hplink">data collection to better understand LGBT</a> health disparities, and increases the National Health Service Corps, which offers LGBT cultural-competence training to corps members through the Department of Health & Human Services.
Young People Can Stay On Their Parents' Insurance To Age 26
Prior to the Affordable Care Act, <a href="http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/health/dependent-health-coverage-state-implementation.aspx" target="_hplink">37 states provided</a> some form of this type of coverage for young adults -- some more generous than others. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services estimated in 2010 that this portion of the bill <a href="http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2012/01/aca_success.html" target="_hplink">affects 2.37 million people</a>, of which 1.83 million were uninsured.