Bill's aim to entice businesses to hire military spouses

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Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C., on Capitol Hill in Washington on March 13, 2014.  Astrid Riecken/MCT
Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C., on Capitol Hill in Washington on March 13, 2014. Astrid Riecken/MCT

Bill's aim to entice businesses to hire military spouses

by: Amanda Dolasinski, The Fayetteville Observer, N.C. | .
Stripes Okinawa | .
published: December 22, 2016

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (Tribune News Service) — R. Riveter, a local company started by two Army wives that's dedicated to hiring military spouses, has had marked success over the past year with funding from Mark Cuban on ABC's "Shark Tank'' and premiere handbags so popular they've sold out online.

It seems the only hurdle for owners Cameron Cruse and Lisa Bradley has been limiting their number of employees to stay under a threshold that determines if a business must offer health care to comply with the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

A bill introduced by Affordable Care Act opponent Rep. Richard Hudson - Realizing Opportunities for Spouses in Employment, or ROSIE as a nod to R. Riveter - could ease restrictions on businesses by excluding spouses of active duty servicemembers from determinations under the employer health insurance mandate. Military spouses already receive health care through the military's Tricare system.

The bill is being considered by the House of Representatives' Ways and Means Committee.

Hudson said he was prompted to create the bill after visiting R. Riveter's Southern Pines location. The business is focused on employing military spouses, which Cruse said can be overlooked since employers fear they won't be around long as they move with their soldier.

Cruse explained one of the challenges the small business faces is being able to grow while staying within the threshold.

"It is something that looms," she said. "You don't want to get too big because you don't want to deal with those administrative things, but we want to be able to keep providing income for military spouses.''

Cruse said the business has about 24 employees and 35 contractors across the country. Since a majority of her employees receive their health benefits through Tricare, it doesn't make sense to have to offer them a different health insurance plan, she said.

"As as team of a majority of military spouses, it doesn't really make a whole lot of sense," Cruse said. "That money is better spent on them in other ways, like, it could go straight to their bank account."

Hudson said his ultimate goal is to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, but in the meantime, this bill could ease restrictions and entice employers to hire military spouses.

The bill is mirrored after legislation that excludes veterans from the employer health insurance mandate, Hudson said. Veterans receive their health care through the Veterans Affairs system, he said.

"Why should you if you're getting health care through the government?" he said. "That legislation encouraged businesses to hire veterans, so that was a successful thing Congress has done. Most spouses are in Tricare, they're kind of in the same situation. This would encourage small businesses to hire military spouses."

Amanda Dolasinski can be reached at dolasinskia@fayobserver.com

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