District cuts hours amid insurance cost concerns

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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (AP) — A south-central Idaho school district has cut hours for more than 150 workers to avoid having to provide health insurance mandated under the Affordable Care Act.

The Times-News reported (http://bit.ly/1nLfVBx) in a story on Wednesday that the Twin Falls School District made the move after administrators concluded that maintaining work hours would cost the district $1 million.

"It's an unintended consequence of the health care reform act," district Human Resources Director Shannon Swafford said.

The board cut weekly hours for teaching aids, food service employees and other non-professionals down to 27.5 hours from previous workweeks of 30 to 34 hours.

Under the Affordable Care Act, employees working 30 or more hours in 2015 will be eligible for full insurance benefits in 2016. Employers with 50 or more workers must offer coverage to those averaging at least 30 hours per week, or face fines.

Swafford said that approaching mandate led the school district to rework schedules so workers wouldn't go above 30 hours. Some aides will no longer coach sports teams as a result.

Other school districts in the region tell the newspaper that they have no plans to reduce hours for workers.

"Are we going to take those employees and bump them down? No," said Luke Schroeder, superintendent for the Kimberly School District. "We're looking at how to fund them at full-time benefit levels next year."

Gina Cakebread, who oversees the payroll at the Jerome Joint School District, said there are no plans to cut hours. She said the district budgets annual increases for health insurance costs.


Information from: The Times-News, http://www.magicvalley.com

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