Local volunteer firefighters and emergency responders can breathe a sigh of relief after the U.S. Treasury Department ruled to exempt them from health insurance requirements under the federal Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
Assistant Treasury Secretary for Tax Policy Mark J, Mazur wrote in a blog post on the department’s website that the final regulations strike “the appropriate balance in the treatment provided to traditional full-time emergency responder employees, bona fide volunteers, and to our Nation’s first responder units, many of which rely heavily on volunteers.”
Controversy over whether Obamacare’s mandates would apply to volunteer emergency personnel arose in December when Treasury and the IRS issued proposed regulations on the employer shared responsibility provisions and solicited public comment.
Volunteer fire departments and emergency responder units said the requirement to provide insurance for employees that work over 30 hours in departments with at least 50 members would negatively impact their budgets and their ability to provide service to their communities.
Volunteer firefighters in Southwest Virginia said Saturday that news of Treasury’s decision was a relief.
“It’s a huge relief and removes a tremendous burden that would have been placed on volunteer fire and rescue departments in our locality, as well as across the U.S.,” Duffield Volunteer Fire Department Chief Roger Carte said.For an expanded version of this article, please see Sunday's print edition or our expanded electronic edition.