Firefighters Concerned Over Potential ACA Imapact

Volunteer Fire Departments could be in trouble.
EBENSBURG, CAMBRIA COUNTY - Volunteer firefighters and state and national leaders have been scrambling after word started to spread that volunteer fire companies could be considered small businesses under the Affordable Care Act.
97% of Pennsylvania firefighters are volunteers, but according to the Affordable Care Act, they also might be considered employees.
 “It kind of blindsides us in the fact that it tries to regulate something that in our case at Dauntless Fire Company, may or may not be an issue to us,” Dauntless Fire Company President Ron Springer says.
According to the IRS people who work more than 30 hours are considered employees, whether they're volunteers or not.
That means fire departments with more than 50 members would be required to provide health care coverage as a small business. A cost they say would be crippling.
“It would present a financial burden certainly on the municipality and the fire service which could jeopardize service in the Commonwealth,” Springer says.
"This would just crush the availability of emergency services in our communities throughout the United States," Rep. Glenn Thompson (R, 5th District) says.
Congressman Thompson spent 30 years as a volunteer firefighter.
On Wednesday, he helped introduce a bill exempting firefighters from the health care laws.
“We're not talking about paid individuals. We're clearing not talking about employees. We're talking about individuals who serve their neighbors,” Rep. Thompson says.
An opinion that so far has bi-partisan approval.
“We're trying to align what happened at the IRS, in terms of how they define an employee with the intent of the ACA and I think we can do that,” Senator Bob Casey (D, PA) says.
And local firefighters say that support has them resting a little easier.
“The fire service across the commonwealth is thankful for having their support in addressing this before it becomes an issue that we have to go before our local municipalities to figure out what we would do,” Springer says.
This part of the health care bill isn't scheduled to go into affect until 2015.
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