Public Sector Cuts Workers’ Hours in Response to Obamacare

by Katherine Connell

Local governments, public schools, and community colleges across the country are responding to Obamacare’s incentives by reducing employee hours below the 30-hour threshold to avoid having to offer their part-time workers health insurance, the New York Times reports:

The cuts to public sector employment, which has failed to rebound since the recession, could serve as a powerful political weapon for Republican critics of the health care law, who claim that it is creating a drain on the economy.

President Obama has twice delayed enforcement of the health care law’s employer mandate, which would subject larger employers to tax penalties if they do not offer insurance coverage to employees who work at least 30 hours a week, on average. But many public employers have already adopted policies, laws or regulations to make sure workers stay under that threshold. . . .

Among those whose hours have been restricted in recent months are police dispatchers, prison guards, substitute teachers, bus drivers, athletic coaches, school custodians, cafeteria workers and part-time professors.

Jason Furman, the head of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers told the Times that the White House is standing by its claim that the law is “good for wages and incomes and for the economy over all.”

But the law is not good for the wages and incomes of everyone in the economy, even many of those it was intended to benefit. As William Lipkin, an adjunct professor at Union County College in New Jersey, told the Times: “The Affordable Care Act, rather than making health care affordable for adjunct faculty members, is making it more unaffordable. Colleges are not giving us access to health care, and our hours are being cut, which means our income is being cut. We are losing on both ends.”