Public sector employers across the country are cutting part-time shifts so they don't have to provide employees with healthcare coverage under Obamacare, The New York Times
The healthcare law stipulates that companies with 50 or more "full-time" employees, defined as those working 30 hours or more, offer their workers health insurance or pay a penalty.
Even though the Obama administration has delayed the employer mandate twice, many public employers have already taken steps to avoid the law by restricting work hours, affecting everyone from police dispatchers to prison guards, cafeteria workers and part-time professors, the Times reports.
Mark Benigni, the superintendent of schools in Meriden, Conn., and a board member of the American Association of School Administrators, told the newspaper that the employer mandate is having "unintended consequences for school systems across the nation."
Vigo County, Ind., for example, has reduced field trips for children and cut back transport to athletic events in order to hold down the work hours of school bus drivers.
In Medina, Ohio, Mayor Dennis Hanwell said the city has lowered the limit for part-time employees from 35 hours a week to 29, affecting office clerks, sanitation workers, park inspectors and police dispatchers.
"Our choice was to cut the hours or give them health care, and we could not afford the latter," he told the Times.
And the University of Akron has cut back the hours of 400 part-time faculty members who were teaching more than 29 hours a week, according to spokeswoman Eileen Korey.
"We have more than 1,000 part-time faculty. Four hundred would have qualified for health insurance. That would add costs that we cannot afford," she told the Times.
Those are just a few examples, said the newspaper, citing Labor Department figures showing that government employment at the federal state and local levels is lower today than in March 2010, and a recent survey by the National Association of State Budget Offices which found that "states plan to reduce the number of full-time employees again" this year.
Congressional Republicans now hope to use such evidence to bolster their claim that Obamacare is proving to be a drain on the economy.
Rep. Dave Camp of Michigan, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, and other Republicans have dubbed workers who face reduced hours the “Obamacare 29ers," reports the Fiscal Times
"Obamacare imposes large and disproportionate costs on employers and has created a new class of employees,” Camp said in a statement earlier this month.
"Many of these people have either lost or risk losing their full-time status and are being held back through no fault of their own but instead by a misguided law."
In an Op-Ed published by the National Review Online
last week, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor wrote GOP lawmakers will focus on changing the law’s definition of full-time employees.
"We will confront head-on the policies of the Obama administration that punish work, such as the 29-hour-work-week provision in Obamacare that is cutting hourly workers’ wages by as much 25 percent," he wrote.
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