Health-Care Law Poses Challenges for School Districts
Education Week reports on the challenges facing Indiana school districts as they implement the Affordable Care Act. The main complaints are predictable: more paperwork, more administrative headaches, and more costs. But, judging from the article, no one seems vehemently opposed to the law.
Support staff, however, are being cut to just below 30 hours a week, to save the districts money. Unlike private employers, like Wal-Mart, who have flexible budgets, school districts have to work within annual budget appropriations.
Backers of the law have argued that employees who work 30 or more hours, in education and other fields, deserve insurance, and Mr. Coopman said he was sympathetic to that view.
But many Indiana districts have been hurting financially for years, he said, partly because state funding has not kept up with costs.
“Many school districts in the state of Indiana are operating with a 2006 budget in 2013,” Mr. Coopman said. To provide health insurance for workers, he said, would mean “cutting pieces out of a pie that’s already thin.”
The Southeast Dubois County district relies on about 50 support-staff workers, in addition to more than 80 teachers and administrators. Providing all of them with health insurance would have cost the district, which has a general-fund budget of about $7.4 million, an additional $257,000, a cost that the district could not afford, said Mr. Allen, whose district is not part of the lawsuit.
School districts “can’t just go up to the state and say, ‘We just offered all our employees health insurance, give us more money,’ ” he said.
The lawsuit mentioned was filed in federal court by Indiana’s attorney general and joined by several of the state’s school districts. It challenges IRS regulations regarding coverage of employees working 30 hours or more.