29 Hours is the New 39 Hours

It seems that WaPo is just now discovering something that many folks in the workforce have known for some time – that Obamacare regulations are directly responsible for so many businesses cutting the definition of Part-Time from 39 hours, to 29 hours.

Earlier this month, the Obama administration delayed the employer insurance requirement until January 2015. But the state of Virginia, like some other employers around the country that capped part-timers’ hours in anticipation of the initial deadline, has no plans to abandon its new 29-hour-a-week limit.

The impact on Pace and thousands of other workers in Virginia is an unintended consequence of the health law, which, as the most sweeping social program in decades, is beginning to reshape aspects of American life.

Under the law, companies with 50 or more workers will be required to provide health insurance to all their full-time employees, or face significant fines.

The decision to delay that requirement was welcomed by business groups, which said companies needed more time to adapt to the law. But the delay has emboldened the law’s critics, who say it is evidence the statute is ill-conceived and should be repealed.

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds that the country, which remains deeply divided about the law, is similarly split about the delay in the employer requirement. Fifty-one percent say they support the delay, while 45 percent say they do not. The public is also divided over whether the setback means the law is fatally flawed.

But why 29 hours? Why did the authors of Obamacare decide to change the definition of part-time? The answer is pretty simple, they had no clue how business works. They had no idea that so many businesses in this country survive because of part-time work.

Part of the dilemma lies in the definition of “full-time,” which diverges from the industry standard of 40 hours per week. Advocates say the 30-hour bar was supposed to discourage employers from simply shaving a few minutes off a full-time worker’s hours to skirt the law. But it turns out that “an awful lot of people work less than 40 hours a week,” said Timothy Jost, a health policy expert and consumer advocate.

They also completely ignored the enormous financial burden they would be placing on business. The article uses the state of Virginia to brilliantly explain why so many people are finding their hours cut as businesses prepare for the coming regulations:

Virginia’s situation provides a good lens on why. The state has more than 37,000 part-time, hourly wage employees, with as many as 10,000 working more than 30 hours a week. Offering coverage to those workers, who include nurses, park rangers and adjunct professors, would have been prohibitively expensive, state officials said, costing as much as $110 million.

“It was all about the money,” said Sara Redding Wilson, director of Virginia’s Department of Human Resources Management. “If we could cover everyone, we would.”

That’s $110 Million dollars, just for one year of coverage for the State’s part-time staff. In my own city, Suffolk, the school system found out it will cost $182,000 for the first year that the mandates are in place, and that is with taking all measures possible to reduce hours for the part-timers below 29 a week. This from a school district that is already greatly underfunded, and overburdened by state and federal mandates. If my city’s school system is struggling with funding this, it’s a good bet that other cities’ school systems will be as well.

Support for Obamacare is falling. Remember Ms. Pelosi’s statement? “We have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it.” Well, they used some political tricks, and got the thing passed. The more we find out about what is in it, the more people do NOT like it!

 

Sources:

Health-care law is tied to new caps on work hours for part-timers – The Washington Post.

Schools Weigh Affordable Care Act – Suffolk News Herald

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