Some employers concerned about Obamacare's effect on budgets


In its just released budget, the Wake County Public School System is calling Obamacare a potential risk. Two weeks ago, the UNC System told ABC11 that Obamacare has schools across the state re-evaluating 8,500 jobs.

Whether it's the school system, state agencies, or private companies, they all seem to be worried about one group of workers in particular -- those who put in 30-40 hours each week.

"You're going to have a trillion dollars of tax increases," said Dr. Chris Conover, of Duke University.

They may be considered part time, but they will qualify for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. That could get expensive, and employers are looking at their options.

This week, state lawmakers have gotten an earful on the Affordable Care act. Mostly it was about potential downsides.

"Our state will see 300,000 full-time workers to part-time," said Conover.

Across the state, employers are trying to get their arms around what the new health care law will mean for both their bottom line, and their workers -- specifically part-time workers.

"The department has about 1,230 part time employees," said David Smith, with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture.

Smith says about a fifth of their part-timers work more than 30 hours a week but don't get benefits. The Affordable Care Act will change that.

"We have about 240 who we will need to give close scrutiny to determine if they qualify for the Affordable Care Act, and how we will deal with those employees. How will we handle that," said Smith.

Smith says the agency doesn't have the money to make all those workers full-time, and says some may have their hours cut.

It's a step many employers say they're considering, and some have already taken.

However, a recent report by the Congressional Budget Office suggests that, on the whole, employers won't ditch workers because of the new health care law.

Supporters, looking at that, say in the long run many people will be better off.

"They're either going to have insure them through work, or now those people will be able to get health insurance for the first time (because of the subsidies)," said Adam Linker, with the N.C. Justice Center. "The state wasn't providing them with insurance. Now they'll be able to get health insurance."

Where the Department of Agriculture has about 250 employees in the 30-40 hour range, the DOT has almost 600 in that category. Like Agriculture, they're trying to figure out what to do about those workers.

One thing to keep in mind is that it's still early. Employers have until 2015 to figure all this out before penalties kick in.

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