Author Topic: 'A public safety disaster': Obamacare could force THOUSANDS of volunteer fire departments to close  (Read 505 times)

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Online EC

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Note: It's a could, not a will. Though given the competence of the Worm ....

Via the Daily Mail: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2520979/Obamacare-mandates-set-shutter-THOUSANDS-volunteer-departments.html

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Volunteer fire departments all across the U.S. could find themselves out of money and unable to operate unless Congress or the Obama Administration exempts them from the Affordable Care Act.

'I thought the kinks were worked out of Obamacare at the first of the month, Central Florida volunteer firefighter Carl Fabrizi told Sunshine State News.

'Man, oh, man, this could potentially destroy some real good companies in Florida.'

The U.S. Department of Labor takes the term 'volunteer' literally, but the IRS says volunteer firefighters are technically employees if they're on the job more than 30 hours per week, making them subject to Obamacare's employee-mandate rules.

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 real 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 above the 50-worker threshold.

That could cost department of life-savers 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.

'I can tell you right now we can’t afford it,' East Derry, Pennsylvania Fire Company Chief Edward Mann told the Patriot-News. 'While a volunteer fire department may not have a payroll, the rest of it isn’t free. The only part that is free is the labor.'


What part of "volunteer" doesn't the IRS understand? It's an easy word to look up in the dictionary.
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Offline Cincinnatus

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Now there's a consideration that never entered my mind.

I wonder what other volunteer associations might be adversely affected by ObamaCare? In my community, for example, we have a health care clinic that provides free care to all comers. It is staffed strictly by volunteers, including the medical personnel, though I have no idea how many people volunteer there.
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Online EC

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The big food banks and soup kitchens are usually all volunteer and have well over 50 people volunteering.

Do you guys have something like St. John's Ambulance? It's a volunteer first aid / paramedic organization that covers everything from village fairs to football matches and massive outdoor music festivals.

The article does open an interesting can of worms.

The Knights of Columbus? Volunteers, the lot of them, and most churches have more than 50 male parishioners.

Though - one nice thought. Can you imagine the IRS going after some of the larger bike clubs that do toys for tots, or the one in the news the other day who's members stand guard over abused children?
« Last Edit: December 09, 2013, 07:27:20 PM by EC »
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Offline jmyrlefuller

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Isn't that wonderful? The IRS can't tell the difference between a volunteer or an employee!
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Offline mountaineer

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VFDs in my area already have been hammered by the requirement that they pay into the worker compensation system. Now this?
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Online EC

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VFDs in my area already have been hammered by the requirement that they pay into the worker compensation system. Now this?

How does that work?

I doubt anyone would begrudge helping out a volunteer firefighter that was injured in the line of duty, or the family of one who was (God forbid) killed on duty. Just curious about the mechanism.
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Offline mountaineer

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I don't think anyone begrudges the coverage for any fireman injured - it's just so hard for a VFD to afford the premiums when they are funded largely by grants and donations. Our state legislature last year passed a law to help subsidize the workers comp cost, to the tune of $5 million.
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Online rangerrebew

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Isn't that wonderful? The IRS can't tell the difference between a volunteer or an employee!

Both are eco friendly, green is all the IRS can see.
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Online EC

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I don't think anyone begrudges the coverage for any fireman injured - it's just so hard for a VFD to afford the premiums when they are funded largely by grants and donations. Our state legislature last year passed a law to help subsidize the workers comp cost, to the tune of $5 million.

Yeah, that makes it tricky. Isn't there an annual charge for households or something? Maybe a bond issue to assist, like they do for new schools?

The examples I know - Saint Johns Ambulance get a very small percentage of the gate on the events they attend to cover the running costs. Fell and mountain rescue - all volunteers - are covered by a blanket insurance which is paid for by a bunch of banks and insurance companies, believe it or not!
« Last Edit: December 10, 2013, 08:38:31 AM by EC »
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Offline Lipstick on a Hillary

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How does that work?

I doubt anyone would begrudge helping out a volunteer firefighter that was injured in the line of duty, or the family of one who was (God forbid) killed on duty. Just curious about the mechanism.

It involves more than "helping them out."  Who else but a worker's comp carrier would pay that firefighter's lost wages from his real job if he cannot work due to the injury?  Or the multiple thousands if his injury involves a surgery and/or rehabilitation?   

Offline mountaineer

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Health Care Requirements Could Cripple Volunteer Fire Departments

 Washington, D.C.—Yesterday, Rep. David B. McKinley, P.E. (R-W.Va.) co-sponsored the Protecting Volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Responders Act (H.R. 3685) which would exempt volunteer firefighters and emergency medical providers from the employer mandate under Obamacare.

 The Internal Revenue Service currently defines volunteer firefighters as “employees” despite the fact they typically work full time jobs in addition to their volunteer work. As a result, volunteer fire departments and municipalities could be subjected to the Obamacare employer mandate and forced to provide health insurance or face financial penalties.

“Small towns and rural areas across America rely on volunteer first responders to provide vital lifesaving services,” said McKinley. “In West Virginia, 95 percent of all fire departments are staffed by volunteers. It is unfair to penalize these men and women who put their lives on the line with each and every call.”

 “In 2010 Nancy Pelosi said ‘we need to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it,’” said McKinley. “Now, every day, we’re learning about more problems with this health care law. As soon as we learned about this problem we took action by co-sponsoring this legislation and authoring a letter to President Obama.”

 “Subjecting volunteer fire departments, many of which need to raise money to simply outfit their members with equipment and training, to this expensive mandate violates common sense,” said McKinley. “For the sake of public safety and the future of volunteer fire departments across America, we need to take action and ensure volunteer emergency providers are exempt from this requirement.”

The legislation is supported by the National Volunteer Fire Council and the International Association of Fire Chiefs.
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