Employer mandate won't apply to volunteer fire companies

Written by Matt Paul, Reporter/Producer | Jan 12, 2014 3:10 PM
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(Washington) -- Volunteer firefighters and emergency responders will not be counted as full-time employees under the federal Affordable Care Act.

The guidance from the U.S. Department of Treasury and Internal Revenue Service means volunteer fire departments will not be subject to the ACA’s so-called pay-or-play mandate, which requires employers with 50 or more full-time workers to offer health insurance, or pay a penalty.

Since the Internal Revenue Code already classified volunteer firefighters as employees, fire companies across Pennsylvania were concerned they would be forced to either close their doors, or turn away needed volunteers, when the employer mandate takes effect in 2015.

Midstate Congressman Lou Barletta and Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Pat Toomey, both Republicans, responded with bipartisan legislation late last year.

After learning of the forthcoming final regulations, Barletta says, in the end, common sense prevailed.

Toomey calls it great news for first responders.

Democratic Senator Bob Casey had also been calling on the IRS to address the issue, citing Pennsylvania’s long and proud tradition of volunteer firefighters.

The Commonwealth is home to more than 2,000 volunteer fire departments – the most in the country.

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