Part-time professors lose work over insurance mandate

Sunday, April 28, 2013 | 2:59 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Some adjunct professors at Moberly Area Community College are losing work as the school seeks to lower the costs of providing health insurance to employees.

The Columbia Daily Tribune reported that the school has told its part-time professors that they will have a six-credit teaching limit this summer and a nine-credit limit in the fall semester.

The federal Affordable Care Act requires employers with at least 50 workers to offer health insurance to all employees who work an average of 30 hours weekly beginning in 2014.

"We recognize that our new policy currently under development may reduce the total number of hours adjunct faculty are eligible to teach for MACC," Jeffery Lashley, vice president for instruction, wrote to employees. "We are trying to balance potential reductions in course loads with an increased pay rate for all adjunct faculty."

Lashley, who will take over as president this summer, said the two-year school might eventually offer insurance coverage to some of its part-time employees. But the school needed to act quickly since its course catalog is published several months in advance.

Other schools in Ohio, Virginia, New Jersey and Pennsylvania are taking similar steps to limit adjunct hours, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported.

Ryan Barker, vice president of health policy at the Missouri Foundation for Health, said moves to avoid the requirement will probably be more common among businesses "where we already don't see a lot of offers of health insurance." Barker said he expects some large chains and franchises with many part-time employers to also limit employee hours.

Lashley said the college cannot easily calculate the hours its part-time professors actually work, since their time in class doesn't include the work of grading papers and preparing lessons. Nor has the Internal Revenue Service provided much guidance, he said.

"There are different recommendations out there about what a three-hour class means in terms of how many hours people are working," he said.

Ted Craig, an adjunct instructor of physical science who is teaching seven credit hours this semester, said the administration is being as open "as they can be" about the potential change. Craig said he hopes the option remains for him to teach more hours, but he and administrators are not certain what will happen.

"I don't feel like I have an answer to anything," Craig said. "Like I said, I'm a pawn getting moved around on this."

The Moberly school also has campuses in Columbia, Hannibal, Kirksville, Macon and Mexico.


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