Health Care Law Scares Head Start Staffers More than Budget Cuts

May 9, 2013

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius read to a group of 4-year old Head Start students at the Judy Hoyer Early Learning Center in Adelphi, MD on Feb. 17, 2011. Photograph: Department of Health and Human Services. Licensed under the terms of the United States Government Work.

You’d think that at a national Head Start conference, sequestration, across-the-board federal spending cuts, would be the top issue.

No.

Instead, Head Start teachers and administrators told The Daily Caller that the health care law is their biggest headache:

In 2014, the impact of 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act “is probably going to be a 9 percent [cost] increase, and significantly more the next year,” said Nancy Nordyk, director of the Head Start program in southern Oregon.

Rising healthcare costs will likely force Oregon to reduce some Head Start workers’ hours so they’re not eligible for the medical program, said Nordyk, who spoke to TheDC during a national Head Start conference held just outside D.C. in Maryland.

Nordyk also said, “The bookkeeping information for it will be substantial because if you make a mistake, there’s quite a big [financial] penalty.”

Other Head Start staffers don't know what the law's price tag will be. Elizabeth Steinberg, the CEO of Community Action Partnership in San Luis Obispo, CA, told The Daily Caller, “By January, we’re going to have increased cost, but we but don’t know how much.” 

This chorus about higher costs and uncertainty caused by the health care law’s implementation has been sung by businesses, higher education, and local governments. The confusion, burdensome rules, and higher taxes are keeping many businesses from hiring workers, and forcing many to work part-time involuntarily. Now, we see the law will do the same to the education program. 

Yet the administration isn’t sweating it. Dan Pfeiffer, a top advisor to President Obama, told the New York Times, “We’re going to implement the law well, and we don’t worry.” That’s more confidence than Senators Max Baucus (D-MT) and Harry Reid (D-NV) have displayed.

Pfeiffer's faith also contrasts with the fears of many different organizations that are worried that a law intended to reduce health care costs has become very costly and burdensome and will keep them from meeting the needs of those they serve.

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