[Update: I didn't realize that these rules (and the story) are acutally seveal months old when I posted this. That said, we haven't as far as I know discussed them here, so I'll leave the post up to facilitate that.]
There has been talk for some time suggesting that the Affordable Care Act might have the effect of forcing colleges and universities in the United States to start providing health-care to many, or even all of their part time instructors. For some, this has seemed like a very promising possibility, since it might alter (perhaps radically) the fiscal calculus that has tilted in favor of ever-increasing use part-time instructors at most American institutions.
Corresponding to this, there have also been fears among those working as traditional, half-time adjuncts and even more those working those who had full or nearly full time contingent contracts that their courses would be cut or their positions eliminated. Obviously, in the grand scheme of things, we all want adjunctification to end; but if the effect of destabilization were simply to force all adjunct positions to be maximally precarious, that would, at least in the short term, be movement in exactly the wrong direction.
Accordingly, people have been waiting anxiously for the Obama administration to issue their rules for calculating how many 'hours' part-time instructors are actually working for the purposes of determining their eligibility for ACA.
They're out. And the best short characterization of them that I can think of is that the administration has imposed a set of rules that effectively neutralize any possibility that ACA will significantly affect the way universities use adjunct labor. Details and a few remarks below