We Didn’t Mean Us!

In this weekend’s January 19-20, 2013 Wall Street Journal page A3 is a piece titled “Health Law Pinches Colleges”.  This article poignantly demonstrates the law of unforeseen consequences.  It further vindicates my prior warnings that America can’t afford the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).  Can we just admit this colossal mistake and rescind this nightmare?

During the health care debate, an apparent majority advocated in favor of health care legislation that would give health care to all citizens. The idea that health insurance equaled health care won the argument of the day. Now, after that legislation has been passed, our universities are experiencing the financial pain due to PPACA’s actualization.  They are now searching for loopholes around the new law.  How ironic given that most universities receive huge federal government funding. This time it hits directly at home- whoops (We Didn’t Mean Us, we were talking about all the other villainous corporations who take advantage of employees). Apparently the public universities deserve special treatment (yes, take the money from the private sector but spare us). I recently read that the US government now is responsible for 46% of our economy so if our public institutions are exempted it leaves 54% carrying the rest (fair?).

 The article explains how PPACA requires that large employers must offer a minimum level of health insurance to employees who work a minimum of 30 hours.  It turns out that the universities and colleges have been avoiding such benefits in the past by hiring out to adjunct professors in order to minimize full time employment (could this be hypocrisy?).  The article states that presently adjuvant professors make up 70% of US colleges faculty! Now this maneuver to cut employment costs to the bone is going to come back and bite them.

They are now complaining that all those under 40 hour work week teachers must be offered insurance or they have to forfeit a fine  (oh, I mean a “tax”).   For now, they plan to cut their hours which will mean approximately 2 thousand dollar less salary per employed adjuvant employee. Additional questions for America include:” how excited are we for four more years of scheming to avoid the tax man? And “how is this behavior going to help our unemployment numbers”.  In a distorted way the universities’ plan to cut hours means they will hire more employees (lower unemployment). The new employees will earn less and have no health benefits but “what the hey?, they will be beneficiaries of our wonderful new insurance product. The article also points out that colleges through trade groups such as the American Association of Community Colleges are asking the IRS to write special rules for adjunct professors to let them have a pass on the PPACA legislation. It would appear that more and more groups are going to ask the Health Secretary to give them a pass on this law for some excuse or another. These special groups who have insisted on this idea of “Health Insurance for All” only mean it if someone they don’t know is paying the bill.  This kind of thinking is a similar fallacy to people believing they don’t know families making 250 thousand dollars and so it is fine and dandy to tax those rich unknowns more than the rest of us commoners.  Statistically if you know 100 people, 5 of them make 250 thousand a year or more which is why President Obama changed the rhetoric to 500 thousand or more; too many people knew someone in the proposed targeted tax group, making the sell too hard.

The Community College of Allegheny County estimated that it will cost 6 million dollars to provide health benefits to the 200 adjuncts and the additional 200 support staff if they don’t cut their work hours to 29 or less. I did the math and that means they are being quoted 15 thousand dollars per individual for a year of individual health insurance.  Doesn’t that sound steep? The health insurance industry loves this legislation.  Now that part of the reality of PPACA is hitting real businesses (I didn’t even cover the taxes that are starting this year but will take through 2015-16 to be fully actualized), can someone say… We Didn’t Think Of That! I would add finally- Can We Scrap This Plan and Admit It Was a Stupid Idea?  We didn’t need to legislate a takeover that forces us all to buy health insurance in order to provide this product for 30-40 million Americans (many of whom voluntarily chose not to buy the wares the insurance industry was offering).  Perhaps it is better to leave people alone, let individuals deal with their personal choices, good or bad instead of hijacking an economy to force a group’s will on the entire country. Instead of allowing the health insurance industry all of a forced market, let’s allow more free market principles to exist. This, folks, is the answer to making health care more affordable. Affordability will result in more people getting access to similar and proper quality health care. This current nightmare in progress is going to force a two tiered system, more dodging of responsibility (highlighted in today’s revelation of universities behavior in response to the legislation) and more folks being dumped into a government run health care system.  Those adjuvant professors who got the salaries cut will have even less means (2 thousand dollar average pay cut) to buy insurance and so they will be joining the ranks of Medicaid For All which is the worse form of health coverage there is. I think it’s disgraceful and sad.