How Obamacare health reform could affect faculty at colleges and universities
Specifically, the concern is over a provision in the act treating employees working 30 or more hours a week as full-time, thus requiring employer-assisted health care.
Considering that many in academe “talk more about credit hours and course loads than hours worked, more clarification is needed,” Craig Smith, director of higher education for the American Federation of Teachers, recently told Inside Higher Ed.
A Grand Rapids Community College spokeswoman agreed.
President Steven Ender, during a recent board of trustees meeting, said depending on how the law is implemented, the college could face significant costs associated with providing insurance for adjunct faculty.
The college, as of now, doesn’t offer insurance to its 600 or so adjunct faculty.
Kathy Mullins, executive deputy to the president, said the college is in the process of examining the law and how many adjuncts' work-load approaches the 30-hour threshold.
She declined to comment further.
Fred van Hartesveldt, president of GRCC's faculty association, said the number of adjunct faculty who work more than 30 clock hours per week is significant.
"If the health care act looks at clock hours, there will be a lot of adjuncts at over 30 hours a week," he said. "I'm sure they would love to have health insurance, but I'm sure the college would not want to pay for that. So that's going to be the issue."
In a statement, Grand Valley State University spokeswoman Mary Eilleen Lyon said administrators are examining the law but have not taken any actions.
At least two colleges and universities – Community College of Allegheny County in Pennsylvania and Youngstown State University in Ohio – have already created caps on the amount of hours their adjunct faculty teach to avoid fees associated with the affordable care act, according to Inside Higher Ed.
That was a blow to adjuncts because not only does it mean they won't gain health coverage, it also means lower pay because they're teaching fewer courses, according to Inside Higher Ed.