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ObamaCare is threatening the closure of thousands of volunteer fire departments, Gretchen Carlson reported today on The Real Story.
Already on tight budgets, fire officials say they can’t afford to pay for health care. In Pennsylvania, volunteers make up 97 percent of the fire departments.
Pennsylvania’s State Fire Commissioner Ed Mann told Gretchen, “When volunteer fire companies across the nation, and particularly here in Pennsylvania, already struggle with the dollars they need to pay for equipment, we don’t need the additional expense.”
He said there’s “no way” many fire companies will be able to pay for ObamaCare or the penalty. “The additional cost will force some of them to, quite frankly, have to quit providing service. Or they’ll have to work with their local governments to ask their local governments to come up with those funds.”
Heard about this yesterday - so maddening! American Thinker explains since the Obamacare law doesn't specifically carve out an exemption for them, fire departments where 50 or more people work - either as volunteers or officially as employees - are expected to provide health insurance for every one of them. In towns with more than one volunteer fire department, all the staffers will likely be lumped together for tax purposes, pushing many municipalities above the 50-worker threshold. That could cost departments hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. Those that dump their volunteers into the federal insurance exchanges would still have to pay an annual $2,000 fine for each 'employee' after the first 30.
However, according to The Hill, nearly three dozen Republicans have proposed legislation that would amend ObamaCare so that municipalities would not be required under the law to offer health insurance policies to volunteer firefighters and emergency responders. The lead sponsor of the bill, Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.), said he believes the IRS currently treats volunteer firefighters as employees. That would mean municipalities would either have to be give these volunteers health insurance, or face a fine under the law. Barletta said he asked the Internal Revenue Service in November whether it would treat volunteer firefighters and other emergency responders as full-time employees for the purposes of ObamaCare. He said the IRS has not responded, which is forcing him to ensure a legislative fix. Barletta's bill, which has 31 GOP co-sponsors, is also backed by the National Volunteer Fire Council.
Thanks for the update J and I really pray that the numbskulls in Washington doesn't block that bill.