How Obamacare Threatens to Cut into the Classroom

Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), the committee’s ranking member, said employment data does not support this assertion.

“According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) since the ACA became law nine out of ten jobs created have been full time jobs. The BLS data contradicts the claims that employers are shifting employees just below the 30-hour threshold,” he said. “There is no data to support this as a widespread practice.”

Democrats said that schools have avoided providing adjunct professors with health insurance for too long. They said the ACA would end up helping hourly and adjunct employees who often work substantial hours with no health insurance.

While some educators have asked that the coverage threshold be raised to 40 hours, Democrats on the committee argued that the change would hurt part-time workers who would otherwise be insured.

“At a time when the local resources aren't there, there [are] reduced federal resources, something has to give. The last thing I need right now is another mandate and another expense,” Benigni said.

Earlier this year, the White House delayed the employer mandate provision of the law for one year, which was originally scheduled to take effect in January 2014.

Gregory Needles, who works on employee benefits at the Morgan, Lewis & Bockius law firm, said the delay has had a minor effect on schools’ decisions.

“By extending it a year, that’s helped them to take a more measured approach, but it’s not changing the decisions that they are making,” he said. “Perhaps the implementation is getting delayed a fraction.”

Rep. Robert Andrews (D-N.J.) pushed both Jandris and Benigni to explain how they would provide coverage to hourly employers and uninsured workers if employers were not required to provide it.

“How do you think we should provide health insurance to those families?” Andrews asked.

He said a person making $25,000 a year would not be able to afford insurance products on the regular market. Thus, a good way to provide coverage to these people would be through the ACA, which “[sets] up a marketplace where a person could go buy insurance of their choosing and receive a subsidy to help them pay for it.”

“I assume you think it is a pretty good idea,” Andrews said.

“As long it is not paid for on the backs of our students and adjunct faculty,” Jandis responded.

Benigni said his job was to educate kids and not to figure out how to get money to pay for health insurance for uninsured people.

“That's really a discussion for you to have,” he responded, “but for me as a school system leader, whose job in charge is to educate kids, you can't take money at a time when resources are so thin, from students who need that upper hand, too.”