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Maria Maisto, president of New Faculty Majority, testified at the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on “The Effects of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on Schools, Colleges, and Universities.”

Maisto was one of four witnesses invited to testify at the Nov. 14 hearing, and the only one whose statement focused on the efforts of colleges and universities to avoid providing health benefits under the Affordable Care Act by cutting the workloads of adjunct faculty.

“Since the ACA has become law, some college and university administrations have been in the news for reducing part-time faculty work assignments or by redefining their work in order to avoid providing insurance.  Some people would have us believe that the ACA is giving the managers of colleges and universities no choice but to enact these policies.  I am here to correct that misperception,” Maisto said.

“It is not the ACA but rather these colleges’ interpretation of and response to the law that is hurting adjuncts and their students. Colleges have lots of choices, and unfortunately for their students, too many have chosen not to support or invest in faculty. The faculty members who do not have access to healthcare — or to the other professional supports that all faculty need in order to do their jobs consistently well — are being set up for failure, as are their millions of students,” she said.

After Maisto’s testimony, committee members from both parties asked probing questions about adjunct faculty working conditions and agreed that adjuncts should have healthcare benefits.

George Miller (D-Calif.), the senior Democratic member on the committee, said the hearing was the first to cover adjunct issues in any substantial way. He and committee chair John Kline (R-Minn.) agreed a committee hearing should be scheduled to focus on the adjunct situation. Miller also proposed setting up a website to collect adjunct data.

Maisto was invited to testify before the committee after committee staff members read her op-ed, “There’s Something Sneaky Going On At Colleges Across America,” published April 23, 2013, on TakePart.com.

On Wednesday, Maisto also testified at the Department of Education’s open forum on the Obama administration’s plan to address college value and affordability at George Mason University. Deputy Under Secretary Jamienne Studley moderated the forum.

Read coverage in the Chronicle of Higher Education: Lawmakers Told of Health-Care Law’s Harmful Effect on Adjuncts and CollegesNov. 15, 2013