Fairfax, Va., Jan. 10, 2014 - Today, the Treasury Department issued a clarification that fire departments will not have to provide health insurance to volunteer firefighters.
Specifically, the IRS announced that its forthcoming regulations governing the shared responsibility provision "generally will not require volunteer hours of bona fide volunteer firefighters and volunteer emergency medical personnel at governmental or tax-exempt organizations to be counted when determining full-time employees (or full-time equivalents)."
Under the Shared Responsibility Provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), an employer with 50 or more full-time employees must offer affordable and adequate healthcare coverage to its employees. For this purpose, full time means 30 hours or more per week on average, with the hours of employees working less than that aggregated into full-time equivalents.
The IAFC raised concerns about how this requirement would affect fire departments that rely upon volunteers to protect their communities, who frequently volunteer more than 30 hours a week. The association's efforts included educating both members of Congress and the Administration.
"This is an important victory for America's fire and emergency services," said Chief William Metcalf, the IAFC's president and chairman of the board. "The Administration recognizes the special nature of America's volunteer firefighters and the critical role they serve in protecting their communities. I would like to thank Representative Lou Barletta (R-PA) and Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) for their leadership on this issue and for introducing legislation that would have taken care of this issue."
The Administration is expected to issue its final regulations shortly, which will provide more detailed guidance on the shared responsibility provision and volunteer firefighters.