Politics & Policy

Bill Aims to Exempt Student Workers from Obamacare

Introduced in the House, it would help students keep jobs and hours as they pay for college.

Concern over capped hours and student unemployment caused by the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate has prompted Representative Mark Meadows (R., N.C.) to introduce a bill exempting colleges from the provision requiring them to provide health insurance to student workers.

The mandate kicks in when student workers clock at least 30 hours each week. “My heart goes out to any student workers who have had hours cut or lost jobs because of Obamacare,” Meadows told Campusreform.org. “This law has hurt countless small businesses and families — and now young people are feeling the pain as well.”

The bipartisan Student Worker Exemption Act was inspired by Western Carolina University (WCU) chancellor David Belcher and endorsed by University of North Carolina (UNC) system president Tom Ross. The UNC system also helped draft the bill.

“Whether you’re an Obamacare supporter or someone like myself who opposes the law, you can agree that jeopardizing student employment options at a time when student loan debt is $1.08 trillion and the cost of tuition is rising is unacceptable,” Meadows told Campusreform.org.

The bill was originally cosponsored by seven Republican representatives and two Democratic representatives. The American Council on Education and the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources have also endorsed the legislation.

At the end of July, the University of Kansas cut the number of hours students are allowed to work on campus from 30 to 20. Diane Goddard, the university’s vice provost for administration and finance, told the departments that it had reduced work hours for undergraduates in order to “balance the necessity for students to make academic progress while managing potential fiscal liabilities with ACA.”

University of North Carolina has already cut hours and jobs for its employees to avoid paying as much as $47 million extra because of the ACA employer mandate. In March, UNC officials said they might reduce the hours of around three-quarters of eligible employees. WCU employs 1,500 students, and 75 of them work at least 30 hours per week. Belcher estimated the insurance cost for those 75 students to be $302,515 each year, according to the Asheville Citizen-Times.

Belcher said the university may reduce student work hours if it is forced to provide health insurance to undergraduate employees. Alternatively, WCU and other schools may raise tuition to cover the cost of the insurance. He added that more student workers successfully graduate than those who work off campus.

Universities are already considering cuts after the general assembly approved state-budget adjustments this summer. Last summer North Carolina lawmakers reduced state spending for 13 of 16 UNC members.

— Celina Durgin is a Franklin Center intern at National Review Online.

Most Popular

Education

Is Journalism School Worth It?

Clarence Darrow dropped out of law school after just a year, figuring that he would learn what he needed to know about legal practice faster if he were actually doing it than sitting in classrooms. (Today, that wouldn't be possible, thanks to licensing requirements.) The same thing is true in other fields -- ... Read More
Culture

Wednesday Links

Today is ANZAC Day, the anniversary of the Battle of Gallipoli: Here's some history, a documentary, and a Lego re-enactment. How DNA Can Lead to Wrongful Convictions: Labs today can identify people with DNA from just a handful of cells, but a handful of cells can easily migrate. The 19th-century art of ... Read More
World

Microscopic Dots. Let’s Look at Them.

Stuart E. Eizenstat has written a big book on the Carter presidency. (Eizenstat was Carter’s chief domestic-policy adviser. He also had a substantial hand in foreign affairs.) I have reviewed the book for the forthcoming NR. Eizenstat tells the story of a meeting between President Carter and Andrei Gromyko, the ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Alfie and Haleigh and Charlie and Jahi

When British hospital officials tried to pull the plug on 23-month-old toddler Alfie Evans on Monday night in arrogant defiance of his parents' wishes, many Americans took to Twitter to count their blessings that they live in a country that would not allow such tyranny. "Stories like Alfie Evans make me ... Read More