Washington, DC – U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) today announced that bipartisan legislation introduced in November to incentivize small businesses to hire veterans while at the same time providing them relief from the Affordable Care Act will be headed to the floor of the U.S. House for a vote on Tuesday.
H.R. 3474, the Hire More Heroes Act, incentivizes small businesses to hire veterans by exempting veterans who already receive health insurance through the Department of Veterans Affairs or reservists covered under TRICARE from being counted towards the number of employees required by the employer mandate under the Affordable Care Act. The employer mandate is a requirement that all businesses with more than 50 full-time employees provide health insurance to their employees or pay a fee.
“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,” said Davis. “The Hire More Heroes Act gives our small businesses another incentive to hire veterans, which helps to address the increasing number of unemployed veterans, while providing them with some relief from Obamacare.”
The legislation currently has 26 co-sponsors and is supported by the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States (EANGUS), the only military service association representing the interests of every enlisted soldier and airmen in the Army and Air National Guard, and The Retired Enlisted Association, a Congressionally-charted veterans’ service organization and the largest association in the nation of enlisted retirees and veterans from all branches of the Armed Forces.
“This legislation will give employers, especially small businesses, even more incentive to hire veterans and members of the National Guard, and Reservists,” said Al Garver, Executive Director of EANGUS.
Bradley A. Lavite, Superintendent of the Madison County Veteran's Assistance Commission, came up with the idea for the legislation and had it shared with Rep. Davis at a Veterans Advisory Board meeting on the campus of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in November.
“Prior to the ACA enrollment going into place in October, I started educating veterans on how the health care law does not change their VA health benefits or out-of-pocket costs and that the VA medical benefits met the minimum standard under the law,” said Lavite. “At the same time, I was also educating service members on the importance of signing up for TRICARE to ensure that they had coverage for themselves and their families in order to be in compliance with the law. It was during this period that I began noticing that unemployed veterans and service members who are enrolled in VA medical benefits and TRICARE, as well as the small businesses that hire them, could really benefit from a piece of legislation. Therefore, Hire More Heroes was proposed as part a veterans’ employment, health care and small business development initiative.”
Currently, there are 8 million veterans receiving health care through the VA system, and every service member returning from Iraq and Afghanistan has the option of signing up for health care through the VA.
“A survey done by the U.S. Chamber found that 71 percent of small businesses say Obamacare makes it harder for them to hire more employees,” said Davis. “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.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment among veterans is at 6.3 percent, slightly lower than the national average. However, veterans who have served since 9/11 are facing a much higher unemployment rate of 9.2 percent.
“We know our military receives some of the best training in the world which produces skills that will benefit civilian employers,” said Davis. “In fact, data recently released by the advisory company CEB shows veterans offer 4 percent greater productivity and they are more likely to stay at a company longer than their non-veteran peers. This is a commonsense piece of legislation that will help our veterans find work and assist small businesses in hiring qualified, well-trained employees while providing much-needed relief from Obamacare and I urge each of my colleagues to support the bill when it’s called for a vote on Tuesday.”