Washington, D.C. – In a hearing before the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions Committee, Dr. Betsy Webb, Superintendent of the Bangor School Department, testified to members of the Committee about the unintended consequences within her school district of the Affordable Care Act’s current rule defining full-time employment as 30 hours a week.
Dr. Webb’s testimony informed the Committee of the inadvertent effect the law is having on the district’s students. Dr. Webb stated, “The ACA’s definition of ‘full-time’ work will deprive the district of flexibility critical to its success. For example, the district has a core group of substitute teachers who work more than 30-hours a week filling in for teachers who are out for extended periods, such as maternity leave. These substitute teachers help maintain continuity in the classroom, which is so important to students. Bangor can’t afford to offer health benefits to these substitutes, nor can Bangor afford the penalty for failing to do so. Unless something is done to fix the 30-hour rule, the district will be forced to reduce the hours of these substitute teachers.”
Senators Collins and Joe Donnelly (D-IN) have introduced bipartisan legislation, the “40 Hours is Full-Time Act,” to change the definition of a “full-time employee” under the ACA to someone who works an average of 40 hours a week. This measure would help ensure that American employees, like the hardworking faculty in the Bangor School District, do not have their hours, and their paychecks, reduced.
Speaking from the Senate floor on Thursday, Senator Collins outlined the importance of the bill, noting that “Raising the threshold for ‘full-time’ work to 40-hours a week is necessary not only to protect the paychecks of workers employed by private sector businesses, such as restaurant and hotel staff, but also to protect those who work in the public sector, such as substitute teachers, ed techs, and school bus drivers. The 30-hour rule will not only harm school staff who want and need more work, but it will also harm students by causing unnecessary disruption in the classroom.”
A broad range of organizations support the “40 Hours is Full-Time” bill including the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC). In a letter, the organization revealed the impact the 30-Hour definition will have on services nationwide, including four out of five home care and hospice providers being unable to provide health benefits because they rely on government programs like Medicaid for payment, and because they provide services to individuals with limited incomes.
A recent ADP study shows that 88 percent of full-time workers already have access to health insurance through their employer. These workers won’t be affected by this bill as their employers already provide coverage and will have no incentive to reduce their workers’ hours to avoid the employer mandate. Part-time workers, however, are at greater risk of having their hours reduced. In fact, one study estimates that 2.6 million workers are at risk of having their hours cut because of the 30-hour rule and more than 450 employers have already cut work hours or staffing levels in response to the ACA’s penalties.
Senator Collins and Dr. Betsy Webb’s portion of the hearing can be seen here: http://youtu.be/fN4CNJZ-wY4
To watch the hearing in its entirety, please click here: http://youtu.be/wRl-7rUQP98