I appreciated Tom Corwin’s article describing the hardship that the Affordable Care Act is creating for Rich Herdegen and other college instructors (“Health care reform confuses colleges,’ Aug. 23). But I think Mr. Corwin did your readers a disservice when he said that “the Obama administration decided to delay” the 30-hour-a-week rule for full-time. I don’t think the administration can legally make this change.
The legislative branch (Congress) enacts laws. The only choice that the executive branch (the president) gets to make is to sign or veto a law that Congress has enacted. Once a law has been signed, as President Obama did with the Affordable Care Act, the administration must carry out the law as Congress wrote it. If the law said the rule takes effect in 2014, I think it should take effect in 2014 no matter what the administration says.
The administration does have some latitude in defining what counts toward 30 hours. For example, does time spent outside the classroom preparing for class count toward the 30 hours? If not, maybe Mr. Herdegen’s hours wouldn’t have to be cut. Unfortunately, we don’t know if they count or not because the Internal Revenue Service still hasn’t ruled on how to calculate a college professor’s hours even though the law was passed more than three years ago.
Colleges are justifiably worried about a law that is so complicated that even the government can’t meet deadlines the law imposes. They and other businesses are just doing the only prudent thing they can under the circumstances. It’s a pity that it is hurting people such as Mr. Herdegen, and it would have been nice if Congress had read the law before voting “yes.”
Steven W. McPherson