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News & Politics News & Politics

Obamacare threatens volunteer firefighter groups

Posted by on Jan. 5, 2014 at 7:31 PM
  • 37 Replies


The Affordable Care Act's health insurance mandate requires any employer with more than 50 employees to offer health insurance to its workers. While the negative impact on small businesses is well known, a more sinister side effect of the implemented plan is just surfacing – the potential end to volunteer firefighters.

According to the AP, volunteer firefighter groups across the country often list their volunteers as employees for tax purposes, even when they are not paid. The job may not offer a salary, but it often offers perks like using the firehouse gym or contributing to a retirement plan. It's the most that many of these organizations can do to incentivize individuals to work as firefighters in places where the state's firefighter forces may not be enough to keep residents safe. 

Now groups that can't afford to pay for salaries for their volunteers might be expected to buy them all health insurance. Due to the nature of the trade, it is feasible that many volunteers go in and out of the league, raising the number on duty at any given time artificially for government purposes. If the firefighter leagues cannot pay for health insurance for volunteers, they will be forced to close down. There is no exception written into the Obamacare legislation for volunteer groups permitted to list volunteers on their taxes.

In the small New Jersey town of Middletown, Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger called the potential impact on his volunteer firefighter league and emergency medical services volunteers "tragic" and "a disaster" at a community meeting. The town currently has no way of knowing just how much the mandate will affect the groups, but should the federal government fine them for not providing volunteers insurance, they may have to shut down essential emergency services. In Pennsylvania, Congressman Lou Barletta is lobbying for clarification from the IRS in the hopes of saving his state's emergency services. That state's Fire Commissioner, Edward Mann, has outright said his state could "not afford" such a mandate whatsoever. Similarly, in Grand Traverse, Michigan, firefighters have resolved to try to "do more with less" at fires but give no guarantee that they will be able to serve. 

New Jersey legislators are working to carve out an exception to protect these services, though whether they have the power to do so without the federal government's intervention is up in the air given the unique nature of this law. On a larger scale, the International Association of Fire Chiefs is lobbying the IRS for answers as well. With the ACA in effect for six days and complete silence from the federal government, the odds that many of these emergency services can be saved dwindle every day.

by on Jan. 5, 2014 at 7:31 PM
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Replies (1-10):
rocketracer
by Gold Member on Jan. 5, 2014 at 7:33 PM

HHS doesn't care.

Ziva65
by Bronze Member on Jan. 5, 2014 at 7:35 PM

maybe the volunteers need to unionize :/

this is just one of many more issues to come...

gludwig2000
by Gina on Jan. 5, 2014 at 7:41 PM

 What does it say about me that when I read the title of this post, I pictured a huge bill(think school house rocks for those of you old enough,lol) towering over a group of fire fighters telling them to put their dukes up,lol? Anyways, that is something that has to be looked into and fixed. And this is one of the reasons that I wasn't a big Obamacare cheer leader, because not only did I think that we had more pressing issues that needed attention, I don't like when things are pushed through so quickly because things can be too vague, or not enough thought or preperation is given, which is clearly the case here, imo.

SallyMJ
by Ruby Member on Jan. 5, 2014 at 8:26 PM
1 mom liked this

Unionize even though they are volunteers?

Ziva....!

Quoting Ziva65:

maybe the volunteers need to unionize :/

this is just one of many more issues to come...


SallyMJ
by Ruby Member on Jan. 5, 2014 at 8:28 PM

That is so funny! I didn't think of that image, but that's exactly what the title sounds like. Put up your dukes! Funny.  :)

Quoting gludwig2000:

 What does it say about me that when I read the title of this post, I pictured a huge bill(think school house rocks for those of you old enough,lol) towering over a group of fire fighters telling them to put their dukes up,lol? Anyways, that is something that has to be looked into and fixed. And this is one of the reasons that I wasn't a big Obamacare cheer leader, because not only did I think that we had more pressing issues that needed attention, I don't like when things are pushed through so quickly because things can be too vague, or not enough thought or preperation is given, which is clearly the case here, imo.


Ziva65
by Bronze Member on Jan. 5, 2014 at 11:32 PM
1 mom liked this

 haha- I know - I just said it because many of the unions are exempt, but of course the religious groups are hassled. So, perhaps they should unionize (get it?:) I meant it as a joke because the whole thing is so stupid. About as stupid as volunteers unionizing.

Quoting SallyMJ:

Unionize even though they are volunteers?

Ziva....!

Quoting Ziva65:

maybe the volunteers need to unionize :/

this is just one of many more issues to come...


 

SallyMJ
by Ruby Member on Jan. 6, 2014 at 12:28 AM

Whew! You are funny.  :)

Quoting Ziva65:

 haha- I know - I just said it because many of the unions are exempt, but of course the religious groups are hassled. So, perhaps they should unionize (get it?:) I meant it as a joke because the whole thing is so stupid. About as stupid as volunteers unionizing.

Quoting SallyMJ:

Unionize even though they are volunteers?

Ziva....!

Quoting Ziva65:

maybe the volunteers need to unionize :/

this is just one of many more issues to come...




Billiejeens
by Ruby Member on Jan. 6, 2014 at 3:51 PM

 Nice that the two of you are getting the giggles out, the country is only burning to the ground.

Quoting SallyMJ:

That is so funny! I didn't think of that image, but that's exactly what the title sounds like. Put up your dukes! Funny.  :)

Quoting gludwig2000:

 What does it say about me that when I read the title of this post, I pictured a huge bill(think school house rocks for those of you old enough,lol) towering over a group of fire fighters telling them to put their dukes up,lol? Anyways, that is something that has to be looked into and fixed. And this is one of the reasons that I wasn't a big Obamacare cheer leader, because not only did I think that we had more pressing issues that needed attention, I don't like when things are pushed through so quickly because things can be too vague, or not enough thought or preperation is given, which is clearly the case here, imo.


 

SallyMJ
by Ruby Member on Jan. 6, 2014 at 4:12 PM
1 mom liked this

That was just a water break - Don't worry, Billiejeens.

Quoting Billiejeens:

 Nice that the two of you are getting the giggles out, the country is only burning to the ground.

Quoting SallyMJ:

That is so funny! I didn't think of that image, but that's exactly what the title sounds like. Put up your dukes! Funny.  :)

Quoting gludwig2000:

 What does it say about me that when I read the title of this post, I pictured a huge bill(think school house rocks for those of you old enough,lol) towering over a group of fire fighters telling them to put their dukes up,lol? Anyways, that is something that has to be looked into and fixed. And this is one of the reasons that I wasn't a big Obamacare cheer leader, because not only did I think that we had more pressing issues that needed attention, I don't like when things are pushed through so quickly because things can be too vague, or not enough thought or preperation is given, which is clearly the case here, imo.




denise3680
by Gold Member on Jan. 6, 2014 at 4:16 PM

could someone please explain how do you say people are employees when they are actually just volunteering?  How do they get away with doing that and can any employer do it?  this seems off to me.  so they are getting tax breaks for employees they really do not have? 

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