CFHE Statement on the Affordable Care Act and Higher Education Faculty
The passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was an historic extension of the basic right of healthcare to all. It was a recognition that access to medical care, like access to education, is fundamental to a just society.
As the ACA celebrates its third anniversary and approaches its final implementation on January 1, 2014, the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education is gravely concerned about the increasing number of colleges and universities that are using the ACA as an excuse to reduce adjunct faculty hours, in one blow both reducing their already unprofessional wages and cutting off their access to the healthcare that the ACA was meant to provide.
Although there is no data to support the assertion, these institutions try to argue that providing healthcare to faculty would be accomplished by increasing tuition. They fail to explain why, however, during years of stagnant faculty and staff wages student tuition has increased at alarming rates.
These actions and statements by colleges and universities are fundamentally irresponsible. They falsely suggest that students’ rights to affordable, quality education are threatened by their professors’ rights to affordable, quality healthcare. They force faculty to choose between access to income and access to healthcare, pitting faculty who have health insurance and can’t afford to lose income against colleagues who desperately need both income and healthcare. In short, these actions underscore the fact that a substantial proportion of contingent faculty, particularly those working in part-time positions, lack the basic conditions of a living wage and health care.
Expecting faculty to do more work with less health care violates the aim of the ACA, violates our country’s basic principles of fairness, and defies common sense.