Late last month, a blogger in Indiana accused Indiana University, the state's flagship public university, of "circumventing" the provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by allegedly eliminating full-time hourly employees from its workforce.
The writer indicated that IU will no longer have full-time hourly employees as result of a new definition of "full-time" worker soon to be enacted under the provisions of the ACA.
This story, which was republished in The Huffington Post this week, is both incomplete and inaccurate.
The blogger based his conclusions on a portion of an administrative presentation to IU's Board of Trustees that outlined the implications of the ACA on IU's medical care spending and IU's effort to balance its obligations to employees with those to Indiana's taxpayers, who help support the university, and to our students, who expect an affordable education.
Here is the rest of the story:
The IU presentation cited in the original piece referenced the ACA's definition of a full-time employee as one who works at least 30 hours each week. As a result of this change from previous definitions of full time as 40 hours per week, IU has decided to limit part-time hourly employees to fewer than 30 hours per week beginning with its new fiscal year on July 1. This is much different from eliminating full-time hourly employees as has been written.
At IU, this group of employees is typically student and seasonal workers, none of whom currently qualify for medical coverage because they don't regularly work 40 hours a week. Additionally, in the case of students, most likely already have medical insurance through their parents.
Full-time employees who are paid by the hour - of which there are more than 6,000 at Indiana University - already are entitled to medical benefits and will continue to receive them. In fact, IU will insure more of these employees next fiscal year due to the change in the definition of full-time employment.
To be clear: Some part-time employees will work fewer hours next year, but no employee is losing his or her job. No employee is losing medical coverage, and more IU employees will receive coverage next year than this year.
As one of the largest employers in the state, Indiana University is budgeted to spend $213 million on health care coverage for its 17,500 covered employees and their families, in fiscal year 2013-2014 - an increase of $15 million, or 7.5 percent, from the current fiscal year budget. The ACA is expected to add $3.3 million to IU's medical costs in the upcoming fiscal year.
Indiana University has long provided among the most generous medical benefits of any employer in the state of Indiana and that commitment continues, as evidenced by the university's large and growing medical coverage expenses.
The university does not take lightly this action to limit the hours of part-time workers, but it does take very seriously its responsibility to balance the obligation to employees with its responsibility to the taxpayers of Indiana and our students to operate as efficiently as possible.