Adjunct professors & ObamaCare

, Spencer Irvine, Leave a comment

Academia, which gave the President and his health care overhaul overwhelming support, is now cutting back on the health care it provides in order to comply with the law, Sydni Dunn reports in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

“Under the new law, which takes effect in January 2014, employees of large companies who work 30 hours or more a week must receive health benefits from their employers,” Dunn writes. “Employers who violate the rule could be fined.”

“Colleges in Ohio, Virginia, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania are among those that have acted in advance.” For example:

  • David Hoovler, executive assistant to the president of the Community College of Allegheny County, wanted to expand coverage but it was “simply unaffordable.”  Instead , they increased employees per-hour wages to $20. Still, Hoovler said, they wanted to keep the adjunct professors employed, so they used extra money from frozen administrative or faculty positions to offset the costs.
  • William and Mary, an historic and prominent Virginia college, is keeping its adjunct faculty members under the 30-hour work week. Health benefits are not an option now, as the focus is on cutting costs, but could be a possibility in the future. In the words of William and Mary provost Michael Halleran, “there’s been a lot of confusion and uncertainty.”

Thus, adjunct professors, who are part-time professors without tenure, are increasingly finding themselves among the uninsured. An example is North Carolina’s Stark State College, where English adjunct professor Allison Armentrout has to keep below the 30-hour-a-week threshold. She earns $4,600 for teaching two college courses on English composition, and has to keep track of her hours on an electronic time sheet.

Adjunct professors are usually not paid by the hour, but by the number of courses they teach. This makes it even more difficult for colleges to determine how many work hours are put into the course.

Armentrout admits that “I’ve just had to lie about the number of hours I actually worked. I don’t want to have to make a choice between having a job or not.”

The Internal Revenue Service has not been specific about the rules on adjunct professors since the law’s rules were announced earlier this year, only telling universities to “use a reasonable method for crediting hours of service.”

In the words of adjunct professor of taxation and business law, Kenneth Ryesky, who works at Queens College of the City University of New York, these rules and regulations are going against what ObamaCare had intended to fix: healthcare coverage.

Ryesky says that the universities’ responses to the new rules are abusive since adjuncts are left out to dry, so to speak. Universities say that adjuncts make up a majority of their teaching faculty, and ObamaCare makes it “simply unaffordable” to make them full-time and pay the penalty for not providing healthcare.

 

Spencer Irvine is a staff writer at Accuracy in Academia.
If you would like to comment on this article, e-mail mal.kline@academia.org.

 

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