Economics, Health Care

Confused professors shocked schools are cutting their hours to avoid Obamacare penalties

Barack Obama is a former adjunct professor of constitutional law, and no group has been more solidly supportive of his liberal agenda than the professorial class. So it is a sweet irony that the latest group getting hammered by the mandates of Obamacare are … wait for it … adjunct professors.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

The federal health-care overhaul is prompting some colleges and universities to cut the hours of adjunct professors. [...] The Affordable Care Act requires large employers to offer a minimum level of health insurance to employees who work 30 hours a week or more starting in 2014, or face a penalty. The mandate is a particular challenge for colleges and universities, which increasingly rely on adjuncts to help keep costs down as states have scaled back funding for higher education.

A handful of schools, including Community College of Allegheny County in Pennsylvania and Youngstown State University in Ohio, have curbed the number of classes that adjuncts can teach in the current spring semester to limit the schools’ exposure to the health-insurance requirement.

The professors are understandably confused. Robert Balla, an adjunct professor of English at Stark State College, in North Canton, Ohio received a letter in which he was told that “in order to avoid penalties under the Affordable Care Act…employees with part-time or adjunct status will not be assigned more than an average of 29 hours per week.” He told the Journal that the move cut his $40,000 salary by about $2,000 and that he cannot afford health insurance.

“I think it goes against the spirit of the [health-care] law,” Mr. Balla said. “In education, we’re working for the public good, we are public employees at a public institution; we should be the first ones to uphold the law, to set the example.”

A spokeswoman for Stark State explained the realities of the market. The new rules were necessary “to maintain the fiscal stability of the college. There are a lot of penalties involved if adjuncts go over their 29 hours-per-week average. The college can be fined and the fines are substantial.”

Really? Substantial penalties? You don’t say.

You can just imagine the outraged conversations in the faculty lounge now: “We’re professors. I thought stuff like this only happened to manual laborers at Wendy’s and Taco Bell!”

Looks like the academy is finally getting a lesson in the costs of big government liberalism.

53 thoughts on “Confused professors shocked schools are cutting their hours to avoid Obamacare penalties

  1. Had he been an adjunct professor of economics he might have understood what happens to demand for something when you increase its cost.

  2. The problem here is that this policy will further reduce the possibility of any particular student having a non-marxist professor. The full-time tenure track profs have to be hard left to get tenure. The only possibility of sneaking a non-leftist into the front of the classroom is through adjuncts who carefully keep their politics hidden from the view of the administration (I speak from experience). Expect adherence to leftist ideology to be the main criterion in the decision on who stays full time and who gets their insurance taken away.

    Of course, no professor works 29 hours a week in the classroom. And there’s no clock on prep time. So how does an administration know exactly how many hours ANY professor works in a week?

  3. I was fortunate enough to obtain an MBA from a small private college. Though that hardly renders me an expert on economics or business, I was even more fortunate to learn truths that have served me well in both. I learned a heck of a lot from an adjunct professor, evenings after we’d both finished work, the same as most, if not all the students.

    I learned and retained such principles at night and confirmed their truth during the day, at work. One great learning opportunity was when Ed Hecker pointed out to me Tuesday evening that Black Monday was a historic buying opportunity in the stock market, the likes of which we’d probably not see again for many years.

    Ed Hecker could have explained the results described above within minutes of obtaining the details, maybe because he didn’t need a passport to visit the real world.

    Dr. Hecker, thanks for the lessons and laughs!

  4. “I think it goes against the spirit of the [health-care] law,” Mr. Balla said.

    Hey, Mr. Balla, all of Obamacare was passed without any regard to the spirit of our nation’s laws. Using budget reconciliation to jam a new entitlement down the country’s throat over the protestations of nearly 70% of the population?

    Mr. Balla, you voted for it, now live with it…for the rest of your life.

  5. Dear Adjunct Professor Bella,
    You say the cuts go against the spirit of the law.

    The law goes against the spirit of America. Now go amend your thinking and your ways and educate the masses on how flawed you and your brethren have been.

  6. Some people have been educated beyond common sense. Let the professors do their research on the TINSTAAFL economic theory (there is no such thing as a free lunch). If these are the people staffing the Obama administration, we’re in big trouble.

    • While your point is completely valid, let’s not give libs the opportunity to avoid facing the truth of it by allowing them to divert the discussion. Ever since Clinton, their favorite course in arguing important issues is to parse every detail and argue about minutia……so I’ll go ahead and correct your slight misquote.

      The actual principle is “TANSTAAFL” standing for “There AIN’T No Such Thing As A Free Lunch”, coined by Robert A. Heinlein in the book “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress”, and it addresses a heck of a lot more than just economics!

      And your point is still valid.

  7. Obama was not an adjunct “professor.” He was a LECTURER, a non tenure track position not even as high as assistant professor.
    There are some interesting comments from “fellow” faculty members who scarcely ever saw him. Not a position gained on merit.

  8. While this certainly brings a smile to my face now, it sadly won’t last long. These adjunct professors will soon be on the front lines screaming that this serves up the proof that we must, MUST, have single payer state run medical care for all. Alas, it looks like the utter destruction of the best, most innovative health care system on earth, will come even sooner than we thought.

    • Yes, 1775Concord, my thought was that if we think this will serve as any kind of lesson to anyone, we are ignoring the Orwellian nature of the discussion on this issue. Before long, the fact that the nasty states have cut funding to the colleges will be to blame and the new state Health Care Exchanges will get the credit for stepping in to fill the void.

  9. Oh, how I love it! These gilded lillies in academia are finally learning about the real world. You’re public employees…so what? Obamacare law applies to ALL, regardless of affiliation. Furthermore, the law of economics also applies to you, Mr. Balla. You are learning that capital, like EVERYTHING in nature, follows the path of least resistance. How sweet it is.

  10. Just another Progressive living in LaLaLand of the protective non-competitive cocoon of government. being forced to join the real world where money really does not grow on trees and yes, sooner or later you run out of other people’s money.

    I am just happy as heck it is affecting those that supported such Socialist/Fascist are the ones getting hammered.

    Of course the next thing will be a call for higher taxes.

  11. Left wing scum deserve it. Hope you start tasting the misery that the rest of us have to experience as a result of left-wing leadership.

  12. As an economist I must add that this outcome was clearly known beforehand by the scum in DC. Any economist not aware of this outcome is frankly a moron and would never qualify to be a lecturer let alone a professor. This is planned and the issue is not about health it is about control, plain and simple.

    Anyone who supports obamacare with knowledge of the outcome needs to be shot not criticized.

  13. Wonderful. Now education is following the American business model: hire a few full timers, a ton of part timers, and treat them as commodities. It’s poisonous, greedy, and will lead to an even greater amount of people asking for government assistance. It isn’t Obama that is doing this, it is the American business model where the only people making money are the CEO and his board. Everyone else gets screwed.

    • “Wonderful. Now education is following the American business model: hire a few full timers, a ton of part timers, and treat them as commodities. It’s poisonous, greedy, and will lead to an even greater amount of people asking for government assistance. It isn’t Obama that is doing this, it is the American business model where the only people making money are the CEO and his board. Everyone else gets screwed.”

      Will a combination of full-timers and part-timers reduce a company’s cost of labor? If so, any CEO who DIDN’T take this step would be terminated by “his” board for incompetence…and rightly so.

      I occasionally find myself reading an article bashing Wal-Mart. Every time, I am shocked, SHOCKED to learn that Wal-Mart is aggressive about holding down their costs, labor included.

    • 1) These people had more hours before Obamacare kicked in.
      2) Their hours are cut due to the the expense of complying with Obamacare.

      So how is this not Obama’s fault?

  14. Wow, reading this article and the comments of its sycophantic readers, one would think that university faculty make up the rotten underbelly of our nation, rather than being the reason why our higher education system is the envy of the world. That’s right, look up any list of top 100 universities in the world and you’ll see that it’s dominated by American ones. If you still think US universities are dens of iniquity, then send your kids to University of Phoenix or other for-profit schools. You’ve got lots of choices.

    For what it’s worth, adjuncts live very financially insecure lives and universities too easily exploit them. Dumping on them in this forum looks dumb, like blaming the sales clerk for high prices. It’s worth remembering that neither adjuncts nor professors brought on the Great Recession.

    Another comment: Our health care system is the worst among first-world nations in terms of coverage and cost. That was true before the ACA was passed in 2010, but at least the ACA will make a positive difference. American medicine has lost its way in terms of its commitment to people and service.

    • The Stupid is strong in this one. He demonstrates Stage II of Progressive Stupidity. In Progressive Stupidity Phase I, any news of the failure of the ACA is ignored (‘la-la-la, can’t HEAR you. The ACA is WONDERFUL!). In Phase II, the failures of the ACA are explained away as being better than doing nothing. In Phase III, when the ACA is shown to be a total screw up, the response will be to praise the government for trying and then say, “they just didn’t go far enough.” Which leads into the next phase of Progressive Stupidity which invokes the age-old adage: “Government grows through failure.”

    • 1. What makes the readers “sycophantic” here? What does any of them have to gain by agreeing with a blog post?

      2. America’s top universities are at the top because they excel in admitting highly motivated, ambitious young people. Whether they actually learn anything useful other than how to take advantage of alumni connections is a matter for debate.

      3. Adjuncts ARE poor, no doubt. But where else can a Marxist get a job?

      4. That canard about our health care system being worst among first world nations is the result of published academic studies, which always “prove” what the study set out to prove – or it wouldn’t be published. More medical advances come from America than anywhere else in the world.

    • “For what it’s worth, adjuncts live very financially insecure lives and universities too easily exploit them.”

      Ah, so professors are exploited by the “greedy” universities…universities which embrace liberal values. Check.

      “If you still think US universities are dens of iniquity, then send your kids to University of Phoenix or other for-profit schools. You’ve got lots of choices.”

      Yeah, such as “gay studies,” “feminist studies,” all those courses which will help you be productive in the world. I hear the porn courses are a big favorite.

      “Dumping on them in this forum looks dumb, like blaming the sales clerk for high prices.”

      Aren’t these professors supposed be the ‘cream of the crop?’ You mentioned that we have the best universities in the world so why didn’t these elitist professors predict what the vast majority of the “non-learned” people knew?

      “Another comment: Our health care system is the worst among first-world nations in terms of coverage and cost.”

      Actually, it isn’t but explaining facts would e pointless because you’re too stupid to accept them. Many people throughout the world come to our hospitals because of our great health care. The ACA ruined that.

    • My, such venom in these replies, not to mention the gratuitous attacks on my intelligence for questioning poorly-argued attacks on the US university system or for pointing out terrible deficiencies in our health care coverage and cost. The latter comment, by the way, implied nothing about our outstanding record in medical research, which I can’t help but point out is a direct result of our excellent university system and the people it educates and the research it conducts. That record is not just because of the excellent students that pass through the system, because excellent students exist everywhere, but because of the high quality of the faculty and rigorous use of standards, as well as its commitment to questioning beliefs and long-held assumptions. It is this last quality that makes people in the larger society uncomfortable.

      Denigrating comments about “Marxists”, “gay studies” and “feminist studies” are merely appeals to like-minded people lacking direct knowledge of what academic research is about. Sarcastic mentions of “academic studies” are also not informed, especially considering that academic peer-reviewed studies are far more rigorous than studies produced in the private sector which are heavily influenced by financial interests.

  15. They can get a job at Taco Bell or Wal Mart to make up the difference of pay loss! “… And now back to our regularly scheduled program – For Whom The Bell Tolls!”

  16. Mr. Balla: “…we should be the first ones to uphold the law, to set the example.” Seems like the actions of the school are complying with the law, and they are setting an example. No matter what you may think about American health care and its failings or its strengths, the ACA is a terrible piece of legislation.

  17. I had held it to be true that “The trouble with educated people is that you can’t teach them anything”. Snap quiz soon, administered by the triage nurse, totaling 100% of your health care grade.

  18. How noble of Professor Balla to bravely volunteer our money to pay for his insurance. If he’s really working for the public good and not just for his own good, I’m sure he’ll have no qualms about making sacrifices similar to those the rest of us private, working citizens have endured from the Obama regime of economic error.

  19. Please verify that professors are “confused” as you claim. You seemed to have added that on your own. Also, that all adjunct professors are the only ones affected…you conveniently put in a [...] where actually, those in that … are a much larger portion of employees affected than adjunct professors…basically, making your statement a deceptive lie. Part time admins, assistants, etc. – non-professorial class. Why are you promoting class warfare (professors are evil because they liked obama)?

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