Bills Introduced to Exempt Volunteer Depts. from Affordable Care Act

The major fire service organizations are keeping an eye on how the Affordable Care Act will impact volunteer fire and rescue companies.

On Tuesday,  legislation was introduced in both the House and Senate that 'qualified emergency services volunteers' will not be counted as employees.

The bills were introduced by Congressman Lou Barletta, R-PA and tSen. Mark Warner, D-Va.

The way the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is written employers with more than 50 full-time employees must provide health insurance. Right now, volunteer fire companies are seen as 'employers.'

The CFSI, NVFC and IAFC are working with members of Congress, and have sent letters to the IRS asking Asking Commissioner Daniel Werfel for a ruling stating that volunteers are not considered employees.

The NVFC issued an alert Wednesday asking fire and rescue volunteers to contact their legislators to ask for support for the new legislation that will protect departments.

“It is critically important that fire and EMS agencies not be forced to offer health insurance to volunteer personnel. Agencies don’t have the resources to provide health benefits to their volunteers and individual volunteers have no expectation of receiving such benefits from the agencies they serve. I’d like to thank all of the bill sponsors from both parties for coming together and introducing this legislation,” NVFC Chairman Philip C. Stittleburg said in a prepared statement.