Human Resources News & Insights

Health reform tweak Congress hopes will get you to hire more vets

New legislation appears poised to make it through Congress that would incentivize businesses to hire military veterans by altering one of the more controversial rules for employers under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). 

As you know, the ACA requires that employers with more than 50 full-time-equivalent employees provide health insurance to those employees or pay a penalty.

Many opponents of the law believe this mandate could prevent small employers from hiring if they are close to going over that 50-employee threshold.

That could prove to be a problem to military veterans who are having trouble finding work (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate of veterans who’ve served since 9/11 is 9.2%).

So along comes the Hire More Heroes Act of 2014, which aims to remove any worries of going over that threshold when it comes to deciding whether or not to hire vets.

veteran, health reformThe legislation would allow employers to leave veterans out of the 50-employee calculation, even if hired full-time, as long as the vets already have health coverage. Their insurance must be provided either via TRICARE, the federal veterans’ health program, or through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Chances of passage?

The bill, which was introduced by Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) easily passed the House by a vote of 406-1 in March.

So on to the Senate is goes.

Now you might be thinking: This is just another in a long line of revisions to the ACA the Republican-controlled House has sent to the Democrat-controlled Senate only to be shot down.

That may not necessarily be the case here. Clearly, with only one dissenting vote in the House, the bill has thus far received overwhelming bipartisan support. It’s not a stretch to think the same could happen in the Senate, although of the 38 co-sponsors for the Senate version only two are Democrats.

The legislation is also supported by the Enlisted Association of National Guard of the United States (EANGUS), which represents the interests of enlisted soldiers and airmen in the Army and Air National Guard, and The Retired Enlisted Association, a veterans’ service organization, according to Davis’ website.

A release on the site quotes Davis:

“We know offering health care is costly for small businesses and the employer mandate in Obamacare has forced many to delay hiring, cut hours and in some cases reduce their payroll at a time when our economy is struggling to recover. So, it only makes sense to exempt veterans receiving health care through the VA from Obamacare’s employer mandate since they are clearly covered elsewhere and do not need employer-provided insurance.”

We’ll keep you posted on the bill’s progress.

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  1. ACA may require employers to provide healthcare but it does NOT require them to pay part of the premium thus potentially hurting the employer and the employee. Often times the offered health plan is very similar to what the employee could get on his own through the exchange but also eliminates the right to chose what level of coverage and carrier they want and losing the ability to get government premium subsidies once their employer offers coverage. So the only one who wins is the Government by not having to pay premium subsidies. Employer pays more, Employee pays more, Government pays less.

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