STUMP » Articles » Collision of Public Employees and Obamacare: Collateral Damage » 6 August 2014, 15:09

Where Stu & MP spout off about everything.

Collision of Public Employees and Obamacare: Collateral Damage  


6 August 2014, 15:09

So all the waivering and delays are over (aren’t they? Hell if I know. Watch this space), and the various mandates and taxes that are supposed to fund the Obamacare monster are starting to kick in.

So first: the requirement to cover full-time workers with essential medical benefits.

Who is getting caught up in that? University students who are also employees:

Officials at the University of Kansas (KU) are capping student work hours to 20 hours a week because of provisions of the Affordable Care Act—commonly known as Obamacare—that require employers to provide health insurance for part-time employees.

Since the news was announced last week, many students are growing increasingly concerned because of the recent decrease in their hours (previously capped at 30 hours a week for undergraduates) and growing tuition. However, university officials feel the cutbacks are necessary in light of Obamacare’s policy changes.

And just think what increasing the minimum wage might also do to your hours. But that’s for another time.

Anyway, it’s just a couple people, right?

Last semester KU had 4,850 student employees but university officials claim only a handful worked more than 20 hours a week. Students like Rachel Prather argue that every hour counts and confessed her concerns about affording groceries on the recent cuts.

Handful? Do you mean a relatively small percentage (so that it may be hundreds of students affected) or literally 5-10 people?

I followed the links in the piece to the two articles — and I’m not seeing the numbers.

By the way, that count of students includes graduate students and yes, the grad students are barred from working more than 20 hours a week. It would be interesting to see the tenured profs being drafted to upping their teaching load because there are restrictions on adjuncts.

Oh, right, adjuncts. I was an adjunct for a time as my regular job and now I adjunct as a hobby.

Looks like a bunch of other adjuncts will also be doing it as a hobby, thanks to Obamacare:

Adjunct professors are steamed at the way their employers are interpreting the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate, which forces them to cover full-time but not part-time workers. Typical of liberals, they blame their employers instead of the job-killing law they supported.

Starting Jan. 1, ObamaCare makes employers offer all full-time workers health insurance or pay a fine. In response, hundreds of colleges have simply cut instructors’ course loads to dodge coverage. Others are thinking about laying off untenured faculty by the thousands.

Take the University of North Carolina state system.

Faced with $47 million-a-year unfunded ObamaCare liability, the 17-campus system has asked the state for the OK to create its own health program. It says it can’t afford to pay its 8,586 non-permanent workers ObamaCare’s essential benefits package, at $5,400 a pop.
The jobs of graduate and teaching assistants, visiting professors and student employees are on the block. The other option is raising tuition, but President Obama is cracking down on colleges over student debt.

“This is an unfunded mandate that’s coming down on us,” UNC System COO Charlie Perusse complained. No kidding. Belatedly, academia is waking up to the business realities of ObamaCare.

Oh, the poor, pitiful bystanders.

That’s on the low end of the impact. On the high end are the full-time public employees that make my pension news watch unending. Not only do they have relatively high retirement benefits (relative to private workers), many also have some pretty sweet health coverage arrangements. Sure, all those essential medical benefits are in there, and then some, plus generous networks and yadda yadda yadda. It adds up to a pretty hefty premium.

Oh wait, there’s that Cadillac tax.

In the latest body-blow to the state’s long-term fiscal health, Gov. Chris Christie is warning that New Jersey taxpayers will have to pay a $261 million “Cadillac tax” under Obamacare on public employee health benefits starting in 2018. And that federal health benefits tax will grow to $837 million four years later.

Tucked into President Obama’s Affordable Care Act as a cost-containment measure, the 2010 federal law gave public and private employers eight years of advance warning that the federal government would levy a 40 percent tax on the “excess amount” by which individual health insurance policies exceeded $10,200 and family plans cost more than $27,500 beginning in 2018.
Aon Hewitt projects that counties and municipalities enrolled in the State Health Benefits Plan, would pay a $97 million Obamacare tax on their 47,757 active employees and 27,590 retirees in 2018 — a tax that Christie projects would grow to $312.7 million by 2022. School districts covered by the state plan would pay an estimated $80 million for the 96,697 current teachers in the plan in 2018 and $258 million by 2022 (these projections assume that two-thirds of Aon Hewitt’s projected tax for school employees in the State Health Benefits Plan would be levied on the policies of current teachers).

School districts and local governments offer more expensive plans than the state government. As a result, combined health insurance and prescription drug coverage in 2015 will already exceed $27,500 for most county, municipal, and school employees, with the cost of coverage for retirees who have not yet qualified for Medicare topping $36,500 under the most expensive plan. Most individual plans also will be above or close to the $10,200 cap that triggers the tax by next year.

Now, that will be after Obama leaves office, and for all I know that particular item will get whacked by future Congresses (or Presidents, if Presidents can just ignore tax law, as it has).

So here’s part of the double-whammy. We’ve only got this in Illinois so far, but if states can’t whack overly-generous health benefits and they are taxed extra on them…. boy, could public finances get really ugly.

I can just imagine the layoffs, while they try to make it work.

Privatization of office workers — why not? Can’t afford those pricey contracts any more, and aren’t allowed to change them, but they sure as hell can close up shop and just pay contractors. Voucher all the kids into private schools. It’s like a libertarian’s dream.

Another possibility is that the unions will have to give on the health plans…. decide: you want the gold-plated health plan, or you want us cutting everybody’s hours to under 20/week and you’re on your own getting coverage via whatever is on the exchanges.

So the public employees are getting whacked on the bottom and the top.

Because all must fit the Procrustean Obamacare bed.

They should thank Obama, Pelosi, and Reid for this lovely gift.

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