Local Firefighters Relieved Over Volunteer Exemption in Affordable Care Act

315357_10151005455533026_1435490438_nWASHINGTON, D.C. (EYT) – Regarding The Affordable Care Act, last week the U.S. Treasury Department announced that volunteer departments will not be required to provide health insurance to volunteers.

This clarification was made after the Internal Association of Fire Chiefs raised concerns about how the Affordable Care Act requirement would affect departments relying on volunteers.

The Affordable Care Act requires that an employer with 50 or more full-time employees offer affordable and adequate health care coverage to its employees. For this purpose, full time means 30 hours or more per week on average, with the hours of employees working less than that aggregated into full-time equivalents. Employers that do not fulfill this obligation may be required to make a payment in lieu of meeting their responsibilities, which are described in what are called the employer shared responsibility provisions.

Firefighter chiefs appealed to the state lawmakers. This legislation would have forced volunteer organizations to raise local taxes, decrease department sizes, or even in smaller communities, eliminate departments all together.

The US Treasury and the IRS carefully reviewed these appeals and spoke with representatives of volunteer firefighters and volunteer emergency personnel to gain a better understanding of their specific situations.

An exception was made for volunteer departments under the Affordable Care Act, and they will now be exempt from that requirement that goes into effect January of next year.

Nic Rawson, a Firefighter/Paramedic with Brookville Fire Company and a Paramedic with Clarion Hospital EMS, told exploreClarion.com, “It means a lot for local companies. There isn’t one department in Clarion or Jefferson County that I would call “big.” There are varying degrees of financial need, but no one was going to be able to pay the cost for offering health insurance.”

“Even for those that feasibly could, it would have meant the closure of small departments like Strattanville, Perry Twp., Corsica, etc. That would have meant thousands of people would have relied on the next town over’s fire company, and that is the difference between saving a home and saving a foundation.”

“So, having this exemption keeps your local fire station open and ready to respond to calls; but funds and manpower are dwindling, so everyone should keep in mind that if they are able to donate their money and especially their time, it is going to keep that department on the road.”


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