A New Jersey mayor says Obamacare is "bizarro legislation" that is slamming his town hard, and as a result he is cutting back employee hours to avoid paying what he believes is the unaffordable cost of health coverage under the new healthcare reform law.
"It is a horrible situation all around," Middletown Mayor Gerry Scharfenberger told The Washington Free Beacon
. "I know a lot of these people; they are great assets to the town."
Middletown employs about 150 part-time workers. But 25 of them will see their hours cut back to less than 30 so the city won't have to pay insurance premiums for them. The local government doesn't provide coverage now, but under Obamacare the city would be required to extend that coverage for workers putting in more than 30 hours.
"My heart goes out to these workers," said Scarfenberger. "Decent, hard-working people are getting hurt. I go to an event, or a cocktail party, and I keep hearing from small businesses the same thing: ‘This is going to drive me out of business,'" the mayor said. “This is turning into everything [President Obama] didn’t promise. It’s just the opposite of what he promised. It is bizzaro legislation."
Middletown Administrator Anthony Mercantante told a local newspaper, The Independent
, the cuts aren't about saving money immediately, but instead aimed at "avoiding a major expense" for the town down the road.
The part-time cuts would not be necessary, Mercantante said, if Obamacare permitted part-time employers to opt out of being covered.
“If you are a part-time worker, maybe you don’t need health insurance," he said. "Maybe you have it through your spouse, or maybe you are retired. You should be able to say, ‘I don’t want it, I’ll continue to work 32 hours,’ but you can’t do that."
According to the local newspaper, The Independent, Middletown's school district has also ordered cuts in hours for 178 of the 300 part-time paraprofessionals it employs to work with special-needs students. At the same time, however, the newspaper reported that the school superintendent plans to hire 16 new part-time employees to fill in when employees working fewer hours aren't on the clock.
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