Obamacare Flunks Out With Harvard Faculty

Obamacare, a.k.a. the Affordable Care Act, is prompting prestigious Harvard University to ask employees to pay a little more for their healthcare, and the faculty is outraged.

Unlike the rest of America, President Obama, an alumnus of the law school, probably has a 99 percent approval rate at Harvard. According to Campus Reform, a stunning 96 percent of political contributions from the Ivy League in the 2012 presidential campaign went to Obama, including about $374,000 from Harvard professors alone.

Support for the president’s signature healthcare reform legislation probably enjoyed the same high marks in elite liberal academic circles, at least until recently as The New York Times reported.

“For years, Harvard’s experts on health economics and policy have advised presidents and Congress on how to provide health benefits to the nation at a reasonable cost. But those remedies will now be applied to the Harvard faculty, and the professors are in an uproar.””

“Members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the heart of the 378-year-old university, voted overwhelmingly in November to oppose changes that would require them and thousands of other Harvard employees to pay more for health care. The university says the increases are in part a result of the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act, which many Harvard professors championed…”

One professor deemed the changes to the university-provided plan as “deplorable, deeply regressive, a sign of the corportization of the university.” Another faculty member called it a pay cut. Yet another claimed it was tax on being sick.

“Perhaps President Obama can issue an executive order waiving ObamaCare for Ivy League faculties that believed his election was the dawn of a new era of enlightened rule,” the New York Post quipped.

“Q: How many Harvard professors does it take to figure out that free government benefits aren’t actually free? A: As many Harvard professors as are forced to pay the indirect costs of those benefits,” the Post added.

Compared to workers who are already paying sharply higher premiums, co-pays, and deductibles and being locked out of provider networks as a result of Obamacare (with millions more Americans to feel its effects as the employer mandate kicks in), highly paid Harvard profs still have a sweet deal. Their annual deductible is only $750 for a family, with co-pays at just $20.

In a separate but related issue, those consumers who qualified for subsidized coverage on a government healthcare exchange might also be hearing from the tax man if, even in good faith, they miscalculated their adjusted gross income, especially for those whose income fluctuates.

“Obamacare enrollees who received subsidies to help pay for coverage will soon have to reconcile how much they actually earned in 2014 with how much they estimated when they applied many, many months ago. This will likely lead to some very unhappy Americans. Those who underestimated their income either will receive smaller tax refunds or will owe the IRS money,” CNN explained.

After a lot of behind-the-scenes arm twisting (which included such incentives as the “cornhusker kickback” and the “Louisiana purchase“), Obamacare passed the U.S. Senate on Christmas Eve 2009 and the U.S. House on March 21, 2010 on a straight party line vote when both chambers were controlled by Democrats. It officially became the law of the land a few days later through a fast-tracked, parliamentary maneuver called reconciliation. Under Article 1, Section 7, of the U.S. Constitution, all bills for raising government revenue are supposed to originate in the House rather than the Senate, however. No Republican in Congress voted for Obamacare.

Thirty of the 60 Senate Democrats who voted for Obamacare are no longer in office as the new Congressional term begins this week with both chambers under GOP control.

The apparent hypocrisy of the Harvard faculty in relation to the prior support of Obamacare did not escape the notice of the Twittersphere or various pundits.

[image credit: John Phelan]