Jan 06, 2014 - 4:15pm

Health Care Employer Mandate Takes a Toll on Community Services


Former Senior Director, Editorial Communications

Update on 1/8/2013: Republicans in the House Education & the Workforce committee released statements from professors, teachers and administrators criticizing Obamacare. Those who wrote the committee reported that health care law has led to higher insurance costs, reduced hours for part-time faculty and other negative consequences in schools. You can read those statements here

That Obamacare is forcing small businesses to reduce workers’ hours and hire part-time employees to either avoid or mitigate the cost of the employer mandate is well supported by both anecdotes and survey data.

The anecdotes are far too numerous to share here, so let’s look at the data. According to a survey commissioned by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the International Franchise Association, 31% of franchise and 12% of non-franchise businesses report that they have already reduced worker hours because of the impending law, even though the employer mandate has been postponed until 2015.

Additionally, 27% of franchise and 12% of non-franchise businesses report that they have already replaced full-time workers with part-time employees because of the law.

But even if you don’t sign the front of a paycheck or are employed by a small business, that doesn’t mean that the long tentacles of the employer mandate have not or will not touch your life in some way. Your child’s education, for instance, might be compromised.

That’s happening in Tennessee, according to Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN):

Obamacare is forcing cuts in hours for employees, such as substitute teachers, in at least 11 Tennessee school districts and likely many more, harming students’ education in the process ... Maury County Schools, south of Nashville, for example, is limiting its substitute teachers to no more than 28 hours per week. One school board member told the local news: “Students struggle enough having one substitute teacher, but then now we’re going to have to possibly split the substitute time between two substitute teachers. It just makes it hard on the students to learn.”

This isn’t the first instance of Obamacare negatively impacting academia. Last summer, the Shelbyville Central School System in Indiana began cutting back the hours of about 100 of its instructional aides as well as some substitute teachers, bus drivers and coaches. And Virginia community colleges cut back the course loads for adjunct professors to ensure they were under the 30-hours-per-week line.

Even the physical safety of your home or small business might potentially be threatened by the employer mandate. Politico reports on how volunteer firefighters, who are labeled as employees so they can receive retirement benefits and other incentives, are being affected:

Volunteer firefighters may see their hours or benefits cut, so small fire departments can avoid providing costly insurance or paying fines for failing to insure employees, reports Colorado’s NBC 9. The likelihood that volunteers will work more than 30 hours a week is greater in the winter months, according to the fire chief of Freeport, Maine.

“Most of these are operating on a shoestring budget — holding pancake dinners to raise money to put enough gas in the truck so they can respond to the next fire, the next medical call,” Dave Finger, director of government relations for the National Volunteer Fire Council, told NBC 9.

It appears that Obamacare’s unintended consequences have no bounds.

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About the Author

About the Author

Former Senior Director, Editorial Communications

Greg Galdabini is former senior director of editorial communications at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce