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Obamacare Could Close Volunteer Fire Departments

Written By : Duane Lester
December 6, 2013

Small towns don’t have full town fire departments. They have volunteers who show up when there’s a fire and do their best to save their neighbor’s property.

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That system is at risk, according to Rep. Lou Barletta:

Barletta thinks that current policy requires companies to provide insurance to volunteer firefighters. “Forcing volunteer fire companies to comply with the Shared Responsibility Provision will not extend health insurance to the uninsured — rather, it will close firehouses and put communities at risk,” he wrote in a letter to IRS Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel.

“Furthermore, subjecting volunteer fire companies to the Shared Responsibility Provision may force them to eliminate volunteers in order to avoid classification as a large employer,” he also wrote.

Barletta told Werfel that the issue was raised to him by constituents. Barletta’s press release explained that “currently the IRS treats all firefighters, volunteer or paid, as employees for federal tax purposes.” Obamacare requires that companies with more than 50 employees must provide insurance.

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“If incorrectly implemented, volunteer fire departments may be unintentionally forced to comply with requirements that could force them to close or curtail their emergency response activities,” William Metcalf, president of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, said in a press release accompanying Barletta’s letter.

Another situation where we had to pass the bill to find out what’s in it.

I wonder if this is the type of thing Sen. Claire McCaskill had in mind when she said, “I think people are going to be pleasantly surprised.”

See also:

USA Today: Obamacare Isn’t Perfect, But It’s A “Decent” Fix

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