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President to President
Molly Corbett Broad's weekly email newsletter to higher education leaders.

Administration Releases Guidance on Health Care Coverage for Adjuncts and Student Employees

Feb. 10-14, 2014 ~ Vol. 15, No. 6

  • Administration Releases Guidance on Health Care Coverage for Adjuncts and Student Employees
  • ACE Hosts First Meeting of Higher Education Regulation Task Force
  • ACE, Higher Education Groups Write House in Support of Immigration Reform
  • Groups Send Letter to Appropriations Leaders on Higher Education Allocations

It was an active week in Washington for higher education, with news on the Affordable Care Act for adjunct faculty and students and the initial meeting of the Task Force on the Federal Regulation of Higher Education. In addition, there was a very positive development on the debt ceiling front: Ending three years of brinkmanship, the House Tuesday voted 221-201 to raise the government’s borrowing limit until March 2015, without any conditions. The Senate followed Wednesday 55-43. Hopefully, this will end the debate—at least for now—over whether or not to fund the government and allow us all to focus on spending priorities and how to meet them.

The Obama administration Monday released its final guidance on how colleges and universities should calculate the hours of adjunct faculty and student employees under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The ACA requires employers with 50 or more employees—including colleges and universities—to offer full-time workers affordable health insurance coverage or possibly face tax penalties (the law defines a “full-time employee” as one who works 30 or more hours per week).

The administration released initial guidance in 2013 on the ACA employer mandate, telling colleges and universities simply to use “reasonable” methods to count adjuncts’ hours. The final rule provides more specific parameters on that front, as well as on calculating the hours of student employees (click here​ for full details). 

ACE and the higher education association community worked last year to raise awareness of both issues with the IRS. See our letters here and here. ACE’s Steven Bloom also presented testimony​ to the IRS and Treasury Department on it last spring.

On Wednesday, we hosted the first meeting of the Task Force on Federal Regulation of Higher Education formed last fall by a bipartisan group of senators​—Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Richard Burr (R-NC). The charge of the task force is to examine ways to reduce and streamline the myriad federal regulations that impact colleges and universities. 

Brit Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland, and Nicholas Zeppos, chancellor of Vanderbilt University (TN), are serving as task force co-chairs. They kicked off the meeting along with Sen. Alexander, who participated online, and Sen. Bennet, who was able to join us in person. 

The meeting represented the starting point from which to examine the sizable and complex federal regulatory structure and its impact on U.S. colleges and universities. The task force will continue to work on its charge throughout 2014, with the goal of producing a set of recommendations for action next year. We will give you an update at our Annual Meeting next month in San Diego.

As you might have heard last week, Republican leaders in Congress are once again talking about immigration reform​, although whether and how to move forward is still a subject for debate.

The Senate voted last June to approve a plan to overhaul the nation's immigration system, a measure that contains a number of provisions strongly supported by the higher education community. House Republican leaders Jan. 30 released a one-page document entitled Standards for Immigration Reform​ that outlines their immigration platform—including support for addressing the plight of undocumented students brought to the United States as children.

We sent a letter Wednesday to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), and all Republican members of the House urging them to move forward on immigration reform and pledging our help to enact a measure this year. Click here​ to read the letter in full. 

We are in the process of finalizing and sending a letter today to House and Senate Appropriations Committee leaders on higher education funding for FY 2015, which the committees will soon begin drafting.

The letter expresses our appreciation for the efforts on the FY 2014 omnibus spending measure ​approved last month, which restored many of the sequestration cuts that impacted higher education. But as the bill did not fully restore the erosion of higher education and research funding over the last few years—including $23 billion in cuts to student financial aid—we are asking Congress to restore or enhance previously eliminated investments in student aid, institutional support and scientific research. 

I will send you a link to the final letter in next week’s email. 

Molly Corbett Broad
President of ACE