Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Missouri cuts health care subsidies for graduate students with less than 24 hours notice

A very interesting little story coming out of the University of Missouri. Here's a snippet from the Columbia Daily Tribune (article by Megan Favignano): 
Graduate students employed by the University of Missouri will have a harder time paying for health insurance after MU told students Friday it is taking away subsidies that help with premium costs. 
MU Associate Vice Chancellor for Graduate Studies Leona Rubin said the change is the result of a recent IRS interpretation of a section of the Affordable Care Act. The law, which requires adults to have health insurance or face tax penalties, “prohibits businesses from providing employees subsidies specifically for the purpose of purchasing health insurance from individual market plans,” the university said in a letter sent to students Friday. 
The IRS, Rubin said, considers the university’s student health insurance plan from Aetna an “individual market plan.” Because of the IRS classification, the university cannot give graduate students with assistantships a subsidy to help with health insurance costs, Rubin said. 
If the university continued to do so, Rubin said it could be fined $36,000. 
“We’re trying to comply with the interpretation of federal law,” Rubin said. “We’re not trying to hurt” students. 
MU is using the $3.1 million it had budgeted for graduate student employee health insurance subsidies to create one-time fellowships for those employees. All graduate students with qualifying titles — a group that includes teaching assistantships, research assistantships and fellowships — will be eligible for the one-time fellowship this fall.
“We wanted to make sure the students who needed insurance had the money ... in the fall,” Rubin said. 
In the spring, those students will have to pay completely out of pocket for health insurance....
I am told that the graduate students were given less than 24 hours notice of this change.

Suffice it to say this is an interesting and probably not desired outcome of the Affordable Care Act and one of the reasons that I am, in general, pretty skeptical of most federal legislative efforts. It's rare that anyone can accurately predict second- or third-order effects and it always seems like there will be small (or big) groups of people who are negatively affected by these massive legal and regulatory shifts.

I can't imagine that Mizzou chemistry grad students make much; I suspect this won't help their recruiting for the following year. (I suspect that they will be planning to increase their stipends for the following year?) Best wishes to the affected Mizzou students.

Below the jump, the text of the actual e-mail sent from Professor Rubin (formatting, etc. removed):


Due to changes in federal regulations, the University of Missouri no longer will be allowed to provide subsidies for graduate student health insurance. The Affordable Care Act prohibits businesses from providing subsidies to employees specifically for the purpose of purchasing health insurance from “individual market plans”. Our Student Health Insurance Plan from Aetna is considered an “individual market plan” and graduate TAs and RAs are classified as employees by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).  The IRS has ruled that institutions of higher education are employers subject to this ruling and as such cannot provide subsidies to their employees, in our case, graduate students. We hope the IRS will change its position on this issue in the future, specifically for students and institutions of higher education and several advocacy organizations are working on this effort. However, because the fines for providing subsidies are significant, until such changes occur, and consistent with the approaches of other academic institutions, we must discontinue providing this subsidy to all graduate student employees.

Because we recognize that this is short notice, a one-time fellowship will be provided for graduate student employees in qualifying titles (4717 Graduate Teaching Assistant, 4715 Graduate Research Assistant, 4685 Graduate Instructor, 4690 Graduate Library Assistant, 4680 Graduate Fellow) based on your FTE, and deposited into your MyZOU account. This additional stipend will not impact your current stipend or fellowship from other departmental or campus sources but is in addition to those monies. The fellowship stipend will be taxable, similar to other assistantship or fellowship compensation according to IRS rules. The cashier’s office is aware of this issue and will work with you to avoid any late charges or fees associated with this policy if you have already enrolled in the insurance and wish to change your enrollment or withdraw. [Staff member name redacted] in the Office of Graduate Studies will work with you on any transition plans. We regret this last-minute adjustment but hope the added Fellowship amount assists you as you start your graduate education at MU.

As a student, you may continue to purchase insurance through the Aetna Student Health Insurance Plan (https://www.aetnastudenthealth.com/students/student-connection.aspx?GroupID=890430), through another source or from the ACA Exchange/Marketplace (https://www.healthcare.gov/). Open enrollment for the ACA Exchange begins in November 2015. However special enrollment is possible if you declare that you have lost coverage. Assistance with deciding on ACA Plan options is available at https://www.healthcare.gov/glossary/navigator/. Click on “find local help,” enter Columbia, MO and you’ll get the list of available providers. The assistance is free.

The Aetna Student Health Insurance Plan allows you to access the primary care services of the Student Health Center on campus (http://studenthealth.missouri.edu/index.html), as well as access to specialty care providers. The Student Health Center is a participating provider for the Aetna Student Health Insurance Plan but accepts insurance for many other plans as well (http://studenthealth.missouri.edu/needtoknow/healthfee.html).  The Student Health Service fee ($100) will continue to be assessed as part of the student fee charges for students registered for 6 or more credits hours.

78 comments:

  1. "Suffice it to say this is an interesting and probably not desired outcome of the Affordable Care Act and one of the reasons that I am, in general, pretty skeptical of most federal legislative efforts. It's rare that anyone can accurately predict second- or third-order effects and it always seems like there will be small (or big) groups of people who are negatively affected by these massive legal and regulatory shifts."

    A well-written pair of sentences that I generally agree with. I might quibble as to whether this was an undesired outcome, at least by some of the architects of the ACA.

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  2. Very interesting, though I can't imagine Missouri is the only university with this problem. Anyone know if this has happened before elsewhere, or night they just be the first of many institutions who will be forced to make the cut?

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    1. My best guess is, they're the first of many, although enforcement will be the "pick-and-choose" variety of the Lois Lerner school.

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    2. A case in point - UC Berkeley apparently gives fee remissions (partial and full) for health care insurance fees - and their university plan provider is Aetna also.

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    3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  3. This also makes the tax situation for students more dire.

    I still remember the uproar in 2011 when IRS started collecting income tax on some tuition waivers....

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  4. The IRS has ruled that institutions of higher education are employers subject to this ruling and as such cannot provide subsidies to their employees, in our case, graduate students.

    So graduate students are employees then? If so, this should have other consequences down the line. This must be the case at all universites with graduate programs. Thoughts?

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  5. Not having to worry about healthcare was a nice aspect of grad school in Canada.

    I still don't get how you people put up with paying more for healthcare while dying sooner.

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    1. We've had this discussion elsewhere. The fact that the US population has about ten times as many people as Canada and consequently has more numerous extreme health-care cases has something to do with the higher costs of US health care. So does the fact that we have far more - in the tens of millions - illegal immigrants (with resulting increases in health care costs). Also, the ways that the US government has involved itself with health care has resulted in greater expense for the consumer and far less effective coverage.

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    2. Illegal immigrants pay lots of taxes though - they pay sales tax on everything, for example, but can't collect any of the benefits that those taxes would bring, so it's not a guarantee that even if we're paying their (emergency - when else are they going to risk it?) health care, that we're losing money. (In that case, insurance companies - and thus their customers - and not the government would probably be paying for it.) In addition, the proportion is key - if we have 10M, then unless Canada has fewer than 1M (which is pretty possible, however), the effect likely washes out.

      In a large population, particularly one without single-payer health care, you'd expect a more predictable distribution of health care outcomes, not a less predictable one (SD decreases with population size if normal, and with no great attraction for people likely to be sick, there's no reason for them to come in greater numbers).

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    3. The former Mexican ambassador to the US, Arturo Sarukhan, publicly estimated the illegal immigrant population of the US at 30 million recently. Illegal immigrants are typically uninsured and primarily receive health care at emergency rooms and free clinics at taxpayer expense. Emergency departments are the only health care entities with a legal mandate to provide health care, so they are frequently the provider of first resort for illegal immigrants. Fully 55% of emergency care is uncompensated, resulting in deficits of billions of dollars, further resulting in the closure of hundreds of emergency departments in the US, thus reducing capacity.

      Illegal immigrants typically consume a higher proportion of social services than they pay in taxes.

      Finally, the issue is not *the predictability* of health care outcomes (i.e. conformation to a distribution for modeling purposes), it is the size - and length - of the tails of the distribution (i.e. the number of extreme cases that that health care system has to cope with). Assuming a normal distribution, and all else remaining equal, the bottom 0.3% of 320 million > the bottom 0.3% of 35 million, and the bottom 0.3% of 320 million is more likely to include even more numerous and more extreme cases than the bottom 0.3% of 35 million.

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    4. Dear Anon 9:38 PM,

      Here is where I have lived, so far:
      Canada (4 + 2 years)
      Germany (4 years)
      Switzerland (6 years)
      UK (4 years)
      US (11 years)

      and I will tell you: the health care system in the US is the worst, by far of all of them. Not only does it provide LESS, but it also charges MORE. Not surprisingly, US-Americans have the lowest average life expectancies of all of those groups. Thank goodness for the Affordable Care Act, which is a small step in the right direction away from a primitive, anti-social system by which the majority (99% !) are treated like animals instead of people.

      I can imagine that all of the libertarians and trumpists will jump on me for pointing this out. But, please don't be shy, and give the blog participants from Canada, Germany, Switzerland and the UK a piece of your mind. Indeed, where is the popcorn?

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    5. With the ACA, US health care will charge outrageous amounts, to people whose deductibles are through the roof, and who are further forced to either buy useless insurance or pay penalties to the IRS. Also, this law does not apply to our elected representatives in Congress. Sounds like a typical banana republic scheme to me, complete with shakedowns and protection money.

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    6. In the UK both access and quality have been longstanding issues, and now the NHS is grappling with both deficits and understaffing relative to population increases.

      The NHS also seems to perform less well than health care in the US in treatment of common recurrent or chronic diseases, including cancer and diabetes. Your odds if you develop cancer are better in the US, on average. Same goes for management of diabetes.

      My experience observing health care in a Scandinavian socialized health care system when I lived in northern Europe was that although care was "free" (although the taxes were something else again) the system performed very poorly when faced with caring for people with chronic conditions, such as joint deterioration.

      Also, having observed the recent VA scandals here, the last thing I would want to contend with in the US is government-managed health service provision. Our government is simply not competent enough to cope with treating its own military, and there is no reason US citizens should trust the government to be any more competent in coping with the rest of the population.

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    7. I live abroad, currently in the middle east and on a Cadillac plan analogous to what I would have in the US. I work with expats all over the world. Everyone gripes about their healthcare system. If you are from China or India, it seems that maybe you can afford health care, maybe you can't, but most things are available except if you need a specialist, as in your child has a genetic disease sort of specialist. If you are from Europe, you think you have problems, but you really don't.
      In general, socialist, or not, (this includes Canada and Australia), if you are in a rural area, your medicine sucks. Your infrastructure is not there for hospitals, specialists, out patient care, etc. etc. When your life is on the line, your medicine is un-accessible. This is something Americans with means just can not process or accept, and would rather blame socialism or Obamacare.

      When Americans talk about our experiences growing up "in the land of opportunity". The two things non-Americans do not have the capacity to relate to, our student loans and health care costs and logistics. Explaining how you can be out of pocket thousands of dollars if your wife develops an ulcer, and how that coverage changes from state to state, people can not absorb it unless they have lived it. They have their own problems, it's not relevant.

      American standard of living and wages have been on the decline, and people in general can't seem to accept that someone else's crappy wages at some point does become their problem. If nothing else it become the new standard by which we are all expected to live on. Perhaps very few of us are really all that special at the end of the day.

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    8. slight correction, Cadillac plan analogous to what I would have in the US if I was rich.

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    9. Interesting comparison of US health care to other countries. If those other countries did not have US citizens paying fair price for prescriptions no new drugs would be created.

      Odd thing is companies do not do business out of charity. They require at least some profit to pursue a course of action. Sometimes socialists/communists get to go along for the ride if there are incremental profit growth from the major money maker of profiting off of a free market economy.

      Don't believe the effects of bargaining against paying fair price are negative? Do a little internet research about the closure of Pfizer Ann Arbor after changes in Michigan's health care. A lot of former employees thought politics had a lot to do with their job losses.

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    10. Americans pay fair price for perscription drugs? When Medicare cannot negotiate prices like other organizations and govt's can? *sigh*

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    11. I guess I should be comforted then that pharma is outsourcing its jobs - when there isn't any pharma employment to worry about, then pharma won't have any leverage against states if they want to play hardball over drug prices. And, of course, pharma is sending much of their business to a place (China) with absolutely no leverage over them with respect to IP, jobs, or drug prices (sarcasm). This looks like it's going to work out really well for pharma.

      On the other hand, I'm not sure that matters - it only matters if the people in charge get paid, and everything else is job #2.

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    12. I'm an academic "scientist" who has been supported off american tax-payer dollars almost all of my life. When I get some kind of disease that is potentially costly (eg metastatic cancer), I'm going to ask a lot of questions about the expense to health care plans about treatment. Ive pretty much decided that unless I can be treated with relative inexpensive surgeries and drugs (generic, no CTLA-4 or PD-1 inhibitors for me) I will ask for lithium/opium/whatever, go to my home, and waste away/drop dead. I will not personally contribute more to health care expenses and tax payer expense more than I already have. This system, while exciting and potentially one of the greatest endeavors to humanity, is a ridiculous expense to taxpayers.

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    13. Whereas I'm contemplating going on biologics in order to reduce the risk of becoming disabled in the future. If employer/insurer can/will pay for some/most of it, then I suppose that I'm more valuable in working condition than I would be as a grumpy sofa ornament.

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  6. I believe all Universities are subject to this. My university is redoing all of their graduate TA and RA awards for this very reason

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  7. Hi! I'm a chemistry PhD candidate at Mizzou. We were notified about this change by email 13 hours before our coverage ended... on a Friday afternoon. I tried like hell to get all my prescriptions filled in time but not all of them could be done in time (physicians don't seem to stick around on a Friday afternoon.) They are giving us a one time stipend this fall to "cover" the cost of insurance for the fall, but this amount is taxed so it won't actually be the correct amount. After fall, we have no more money allotted for health insurance. My original offer letter from 2012 discusses a package that includes the tuition waiver & health insurance. Now that they've cut health insurance, it basically means I got a 14% paycut... and it's worse in other departments. It's not just a Mizzou thing but I'm not aware yet of the other universities affected.

    We have a petition that I'd really love for people to consider signing: Urge the IRS to make changes to 2013-54 regarding the health insurance stipends for graduate students. http://wh.gov/i5hss

    And if you have any questions, hit me up on twitter @chemistLN

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    1. If it helps at all, the Harvard faculty weren't happy about the increases in their health care costs either.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/06/us/health-care-fixes-backed-by-harvards-experts-now-roil-its-faculty.html?_r=0

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    2. LN passes along a press release from the students: http://bit.ly/1MxTI3e (links to PDF)

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    3. After reading the PDF, the main thought that occurs to me is, "Be careful what you wish for..."

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    4. "LN passes along a press release from the students: http://bit.ly/1MxTI3e (links to PDF)"
      And how many of those grad students were in physical sciences graduate programs, e.g. chemistry, as opposed to social sciences? As a grad student myself, I can recall that it was the chemistry grad students who did not wish to participate in an unionization drive.

      Hence, I suspect that, in preparation for membership in large corporations and the ACS, the chemistry grad students would rather just shut up and go back into the lab.

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    5. Reaction to the press release - it should be evident that the current administration, through the IRS, is playing a large-scale game of "Let's You and Him Fight." The people who are going to lose in this scenario are the grad students themselves, future grad students, and the universities.

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  8. I wish I could say I'm glad I voted Republican in the last two presidential elections, but it didn't do a damn bit of good.

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  9. I think this is the inevitable result of making the more political than practical promise that "If you like your health insurance, you can keep it." In reality, while it served the US well for a time (~1950s - 1990s or so), the policy of providing tax-subsidized health insurance through employers has reached a breaking point as health costs have risen dramatically. The inevitable result of that promise is regulations like these, which are actually counterproductive to the stated aim of helping people keep their insurance through their employer. Thus, while I think some aspects of the PPACA are progress (e.g. starting to tax high-cost employer provided health plans, a more functioning individual market for health insurance), inevitably it cements the "insider-outsider" dynamic of the current labor market in the US. As a result, some people have "good jobs" that provide benefits and job security, and others have to rely on more contingent, short-term employment (e.g. tenured faculty vs. adjuncts, union vs non-union, full-time vs. part-time, etc.)

    It would probably benefit everyone in the long run to scuttle the policy of tax-exempt employer provided health insurance and move most people to the exchanges. The government would benefit from higher tax revenue (since employer provided health insurance is tax-exempt from income and payroll taxes and would probably generate far more revenue than those lost from providing subsidies through the exchanges). Employers would benefit from having more predictable employee compensation costs from year-to-year (since they can control your compensation but not the cost that an insurance company charges), and lower administration costs from not having to manage these benefits. Employees would benefit from having more stable health coverage where they can take it from job to job and have more choice over their level of coverage. Unfortunately, the current polarized political environment surrounding the PPACA is likely to prevent much progress on this issue, along with the natural desire of people to protect their own personal benefits.

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  10. This has *nothing* to do with the Affordable Care Act, and everything to do with the graduate students not being unionized. Missouri is using this ruling as an excuse to stop paying premiums, when all they would have had to do would be to move the graduate students onto the employee health care plans, *like almost every other graduate school*. And they knew about this MONTHS ago, but chose for some reason they cut the graduate students off at the very last minute. But sure, it is a lot more fun to blame Obamacare when what you really wanted to do was to save some money by screwing over your students.

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    1. BING! It's kind of hard for me to believe that MU had a day's notice that they had to pull health insurance. The only reason anyone announces anything on Friday afternoons is to avoid the flak from what they are announcing. This sounds almost as bad as the SUNY-Albany provost being unable to get a room to explain why he was nuking his humanities programs with no notice.

      It's much easier to believe that Obamacare is a convenient excuse than a proximate cause - if it were the real cause, the university would have stoked the anger up and given the students plenty of time to protest publicly, so that the politicians responsible could get a much penalty as possible from their actions. If it's happening with no notice, it's presumably because the administration wanted it to happen and didn't want a chance for it to be reversed by flak.

      It would help the government to make health care taxed, and employers, so I'm surprised it hasn't happened yet. Employers have been trying to decouple health care from employment, but employees haven't been keen on taking large pay cuts. With the market for employment bad, they wouldn't have that problem. The government would like to get the debt down or spend more (either other parts of ACA or something else). It's just that the benefits to individuals are likely to be far smaller than the costs - it effectively would act as a large wage cut and tax increase, simultaneously. The saner (or at least less painful) changes of changing the tax status of housing and local taxes to remove the AMT hasn't happened, and at least there there's some compensating benefit. It would probably be about as popular as a tax assessment for leprosy - to get leprosy, not cure it.

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    2. MU. Tsk tsk. Unethical. Why am I not surprised?

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    3. Actually, the universities probably only began to get wind of this in July of THIS year, which is when a related IRS regulation took effect. So months? No. Probably more like days.

      Businesses Threatened with Fines for Helping Employees with Health Costs

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  11. Where's the popcorn?

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    1. Why do people keep asking for popcorn? Is it particularly good in Missouri?

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    2. It's a rhetorical question indicating the show is about to commence. But frankly, I'm disappointed. Despite a very clear causation chain, most people who supported the ACA don't regret doing so, they just don't see why it should apply to them, or they stick up for it with largely glossed-over diatribes about how health care is better abroad.

      I suppose it's a bit like watching dinosaurs wondering what that big rock in the sky is, but less informative and less interesting.

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    3. ...also, the knowledge that one is under the same big rock tends to take the schadenfreude out of it.

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    4. Eh, no one cares about the AMA anymore. These days it's all about Beryllium!

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    5. Non sequitur much?

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    6. Should I have said EPA? Look, it's all on the same blog.

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  12. Hello It's Missouri! http://www.npr.org/2014/12/19/371202059/when-a-hospital-bill-becomes-a-decade-long-pay-cut.

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  13. Is $36k a one time fine, or will it be repeated / enhanced if things don't change? Doesn't seem that much really if the former (and for all involved?)

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  14. The $36k fine needs to be elaborated.

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  16. Its $36K fine for every instance of violation i.e. $36k per grad student per year. It sucks that they were given a day of notice, but honestly, if you look elsewhere on the inter-webs people were already talking about this last year as potentially unintended consequences of ACA.

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    1. That's what you get when your Congress(wo)man passes it before s/he finds out what's in it.

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    1. Actually isn't that exactly what they did? A documented (so as to be acceptable to the IRS) one-time payout to qualified employees to try to cover the relevant cost? Read the 3rd paragraph from the bottom, you missed it in your rush to defend the ACA and blame this on the evil university.

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  18. The university screwed up and should have understood the law. Quit blaming the ACA, and blame the adminstrators that didn't do their job and have this sorted out well in advance so that they could properly transition students to the new system.

    It looks like the university is handing the subsidies out as unrestricted cash directly to the students, so the problem is not financial. It is just a FUBAR created by MU's bureaucratic incompetence.

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    1. Not even the legislators who passed this POS understood it. Most of them didn't even read the ACA. Quit blaming the poor universities that have to put up with this crappy "change it as it suits Obama's purposes" legislation.

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    2. Poor universities indeed! They got cute by treating graduate students separately from 'real' employees. Nobody is making them do that. They just figured they could. Universities are all about multi-tiered hierarchies.

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    3. Talk about biting the hand...

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    4. "The university screwed up and should have understood the law." Quite a challenge, considering the congressmen who passed Obamacare didn't understand it, the Supreme Court couldn't agree on what it was or wasn't, and that one of the principal authors Jonathan Gruber used it to develop a sideline in "advising" governments how to implement it (along the way getting sued for bill padding by a blue state that wasn't having it, and immortalizing his surname as a synonym for "bilking").

      Or perhaps Mssrs. Brick and Slutsky think MU should just have forked over the $50,000 "consulting fee" to Gruber in a brown paper bag.

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    5. No, and are you the same Anon who was in here complaining about CJ's politics the other week? Facebook -------->
      There need be no consulting fees to imaginary liberal conspiracies. Treat employees like employees and it'll work out without any fuss. They wanted to keep their grads off the regular employee health plan, probably because it was too good for them, so they tried to come up with some scheme that didn't work. And as has been posted before this probably didn't come up on a Friday afternoon with no notice.

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    6. "Consulting fees to imaginary liberal conspiracies?" Vermont didn't think the bill padding was imaginary.

      Gruber billing referred to Vermont attorney general

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    7. "No, and are you the same Anon who was in here complaining about CJ's politics the other week? Facebook -------->"

      I'm not sure what you're referring to here.

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    8. I suspect Morris is right on about what Mizzou did with regard to graduate students.
      This would align well with my graduate school experience. It's hard to have much sympathy for MU when they have an army of lawyers (law school) that should have been able to see this coming.

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    9. The timing of the announcement looks suspect, but let's be perfectly honest, none of the people commenting on how remiss MU was have any idea what was presented to MU on this or when.

      Knowing how friendly and helpful the IRS have been to people I know (they are very *nice* to small business owners, and those that take an interest in their employees' welfare have been singled out for special treatment), it is just as likely that MU was contacted last Thursday out of the blue by their friendly, helpful IRS case handler and threatened over the phone with fines of millions of dollars. This over a Byzantine law that is so onerous and punitive that everyone involved with its construction and passage wants to be exempt from it.

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    10. I reiterate, I am sure someone in the MU system saw this as a potential problem. The law has been in place for quite some time now and has been examined by numerous legal experts. You really believe MU had no idea and/or was blindsided by the grad student insurance problem?

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    11. I wouldn't doubt someone at MU realized there was a problem. It's just that some $500,000 per year administrator over-ruled or ignored them.

      I really don't see this as a big deal, though. Everyone is getting extra money to cover the gap, and everyone is eligible to sign up for the same kind of plans from the same insurer if they want to. It's an annoying hassle, but not that much of one.



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    12. @Chad, I think the big deal is that it amounts to a 14% pay cut in the spring semester of this year, i.e. they have enough money for the fall, but not for the spring.

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    13. Again, I have to wonder what makes the UC Berkeley case any different. And there, they really do have administrators making $500,000/year, and up.

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    14. "The law has been in place for quite some time now..." with numerous changes, delays, and exemptions made as it has been instantiated.

      "... and has been examined by numerous legal experts." without agreement on what it means and what the implications are.

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  19. Why weren't they on the employee plan?

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    1. a) expense to the institution;
      b) expense to students;
      c) tax consequences to students;
      d) tax consequences to the institution;
      e) legal definitions as to what constitutes an employee;
      f) all of the above.

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  20. I am not sure if the University of Missouri chemistry professors would be for this, but I was thinking they could supplement the graduate students health insurance with their own salaries and use that money as a tax right off. Since Mizzou is a public school all salaries are public.

    All salaries reference from (http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/stl-info/university-of-missouri-employee-payroll/html_7d356bce-2e6e-5f75-9425-4d2f2c53c86b.html?appSession=634174454823147)

    University of Missouri Chemistry faculty and 2014-2015 salaries

    Jerry Atwood 172,349
    Gary Baker 101,784
    Sheila Baker 90,875
    Jason Cooley 68,984
    Hank Foley 367,500
    Kent Gates 128,963
    Rainer Glaser 75,524
    Tim Glass 88,185
    Michael Greenlief 77,055
    Michael Harmata 136,159
    Renee Jiji 71,423
    Silvia Jurisson 125,601
    Steven Keller 76,332
    Mark Lee 104,175
    Susan Lever 77,821
    David Robertson 98,670
    Thomas Sewell 118,533
    Donald Thompson 148,026
    Justin Walensky 81,392

    I do not know how many graduate students the chemistry department employs but If each professor would give 10 percent of his/her salary for 50 graduate students each student would receive (4,418.70), for 75 (2,45.80), and for 100 (2,209.35). If the professors wanted to give up 14% of their salaries the same percentage the graduate students will be giving up those numbers increase to: 50 (6,186.18), 75 (4,124.12), and 100 (3,093.09).

    I would not see any graduate students against this donation. I don't think any professor should be against this either, since they are getting practically free labor from there graduate students.

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    1. I really like that idea. Share the pain. Show solidarity.
      Sadly, I doubt that more than one of the professors would seriously entertain that idea.

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    2. Indeed, this is a worthy idea. After all, while the career outcomes of PhD graduates from University of Missouri Chemistry Department are uncertain, there is one thing which is certain: they are working on behalf of their research director's careers (if published, then their work will be referred to in the scientific literature as belong to "R. Director, et al.")

      While the salary of Foley is especially outrageous, I am curious about extrapolating this policy to the salaries of the ACS CEO, which are even more absurd.

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    3. This would not be materially different from the university directly providing subsidies to the students in the view of the IRS.

      They (the IRS) really don't like it when an employer assumes the cost of an employee's welfare. They shake down small business owners over this *all the time.*

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    4. Interesting point. Rather than a donation, perhaps a raise in salary would do it then.

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    5. I think that's where you have to go with this, given the reaction. You also have to account for the higher deductibles. This means fewer RAs and TAs, and less opportunity.

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    6. I met someone the other day, who I thought was a postdoc, instead he was a lab manager. He was motivated, published, and more secure in his position (making more money). I felt relieved

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    7. A reduction in the number of graduate students and a potential increase in meaningful interactions with their advisors would probably be a good outcome.

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    8. My guess is in the future some grad schools will not even have to pay for grad students. As China becomes more polluted and dysfunctional and because Chinese parents are relativly obsessed to see their children "succeed", they will probably happily pay for their kids to be grad laborers in labs in the prestigous US of A.

      And people wonder why I'm for Trump's immigration policy.

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    9. Actually what is happening appears to be this - the US dollar is overproduced, yet buoyed ever upwards by currency devaluations round the globe (India, China, Mexico, and Kazakhstan, and more are joining in). Therefore the US has a strong dollar. This prevents India and China in particular from sending us all their students.

      However, the DoD has a policy imperative to recruit students representative of "the America to come" (recruiting "diverse" students so as to promote the diversity that they are supposed to reflect). At the same time government and industry are sounding the relentless drumbeat of "more STEM" in lockstep with the education unions, which have never looked a crisis in the mouth. This means increased taxpayer funding for international students to study in the US, more visas, and more green cards - also "empowerment" education to recruit Latino immigrants at taxpayer expense - all of which show up as increased taxes and increased tuition rates - in short, a higher volume of the same insanity that brought us to this point.

      So essentially NMH is right, except the ones footing the bill will be (and already are) US taxpayers.

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  21. A few days back, I e-mailed the head of the UM graduate students' organization to ask him for the details on the break-down of the graduate students who supported the threat of a strike: how many in Arts? In Engineering? In physical/biological sciences? In social sciences?

    Back when I did an MSc at Michigan State University, there was a movement among the grad students to organize and guarantee a minimum TA salary. The university "management" responded to the chemistry grad students by telling them that, if they supported the unionization drive, that any increase in the salaries for the Arts TAs would come out of salaries for the physical/biological science TAs.

    In my e-mail to the MU person, I explained this background. He has not yet responded.

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