Rep. Mark Meadows, a North Carolina Republican, with co-sponsors from both side of the political aisle, has proposed a bill that would exempt student workers from the Affordable Care Act’s so-called employer mandate. Under the act, large employers such as colleges and universities must offer health insurance plans to employees working 30 hours per week or more on average. The Student Worker Exemption Act would make it so that colleges and universities don’t have to offer that coverage to students working 30 or more hours per week. Colleges’ and universities’ responsibilities under the Affordable Care Act has been the subject of much debate, mostly in relation to adjunct professors who have seen their hours cut by administrators who say they can’t afford to extend health care coverage to these employees.
Student workers have been less of a focus. But some critics have said that student workers such as newspaper staffers who put in long hours or graduate assistants could lose their jobs under the act, if colleges and universities decide not to extend health care coverage to them. Several North Carolina administrators, including University of North Carolina System President Thomas W. Ross, have publicly endorsed the act. "The University of North Carolina system wholeheartedly supports and endorses the bipartisan Student Worker Exemption Act," Ross said in a statement, reported by the Citizen-Times.