Aug 8, 2013 5:25 PM by Andrew Ellison - firstname.lastname@example.org
CORPUS CHRISTI - A budget crunch in Bee County has a community program that helps the disabled and the elderly scrambling to keep their part-time employees.
When the Affordable Care Act takes effect next year, all part-time employees who work over 30 hours a week would have to get health insurance benefits, and that's something Bee County can not afford.
So, with their fiscal year starting October, they're capping the number of hours a part-time worker can work to 24 per week.
And that is causing issues for the Bee Community Action Agency.
One of their biggest functions is to help transport elderly and disabled people to and from appointments, jobs, etc...
All of their drivers are part-time.
And while some of their drivers are retirees and don't rely on the income, there are some that do. And those drivers might head for greener pastures.
Anna Simo is the Executive Director for the agency.
"There's a lot of competition right now with the oil and gas industry, and they're paying better wages than we are. You know, and now we're cutting the hours," she says.
Richard Arriola is one of the drivers who is worried that less drivers means they won't be able to help nearly as many disabled and elderly.
"We're going to have to cut back on pickups because we run out of time. They don't want us to go over 24 hours," he says.
Simo tells us that they're considering several solutions.
They could try to hire more part-time workers and achieve the coverage they need that way, though it's hard to attract people to a 24 hour a week job with no benefits.
Another possibility would be to make a small number of workers full time with benefits, but then you have less drivers to work with total.
It's a catch-22 situation, many feel.