Yesterday, the Obama Administration announced that it is delaying until January 1, 2015, implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's (ACA) employer mandate. The employer mandate will require all large employers—those with 50 or more employees—to provide health care insurance coverage to all full-time employees. The law defines full-time employees as those who work, on average, 30 or more hours a week. Many institutions had already acted in response to the looming January deadline. Now, however, they and other institutions have an additional year to come into compliance.
Implementation of the employer mandate has proven to be especially complicated for community colleges due to their employment of adjunct faculty. This is because the work effort of adjunct faculty (and other faculty) is often not measured in hours, but rather in the courses or credits taught, while, as stated above, the ACA defines a full-time employee as one who hits the 30-hour threshold. Regulations issued pursuant to the ACA did not include specific directions for handling the unique circumstances of adjunct faculty. In the absence of such guidance, regulators instructed institutions to use a "reasonable" approach and solicited additional views on how to address the issue of adjuncts. In March, AACC formally provided input [PDF] to the Internal Revenue Service about this matter.
The Administration’s action is welcome in some ways, regrettable in others. The delay in implementation of the employer mandate gives the Administration more time to develop policies that will be fair to all concerned parties, in keeping with the law. It will also give institutions additional time to evaluate their policies. However, it is unfortunate that the delay was announced less than 6 months before the mandate was scheduled to take effect, and 6 months into the formal measurement period that some institutions were using to determine the contributions of adjunct faculty.
The Treasury Department is expected to continue its work in defining what constitutes a full-time employee for the purposes of the ACA. We will provide ongoing updates on this process. In the meantime, we want to make sure that all campuses are aware of the significance of yesterday’s announcement.
If you have questions or comments about this issue, please contact David Baime, senior vice president for government relations and policy analysis.
We also wish all of you a happy and healthy Fourth of July.
Walter G. Bumphus, Ph. D.
President and CEO