Pennsylvania Congressman, Joe Pitts, visited the Lafayette Fire Company in Lancaster Tuesday afternoon to show firefighters how he’s going to fight against mandates under the Affordable Care Act.
Rep. Pitts says a requirement under the Affordable Care Act could potentially shut down the Lafayette Fire Company in Lancaster.
But firefighters say they’re doing everything in their power to avoid that.
The new healthcare law requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide health insurance.
And, the IRS considers firefighters, even though they’re volunteers, to be employees for tax purposes.
“Pennsylvania alone has over 3,000 volunteer fire and EMS companies, this could be devastating to local companies across the state,” says Rep. Pitts.
Fire Chief, David Keens says this is somewhat of a nightmare.
“It is and when I first read about it three weeks ago I thought it’s not really going to–they can’t do this–come on!” says Chief Keens.
But it’s become a reality unless a House of Representatives resolution passes that would exempt firefighters and EMS crews.
Chief Keens says since 2007 he’s seen a decrease in funding by 50% from the community.
“That’s a pretty big hit, now we’re still surviving here but if we had to pay benefits under the Affordable Care Act, I’m afraid we would not be able to survive,” says Keens.
And, the more Chief Keens read about the new requirements, the more he realized the fire company may have to cut volunteers.
He and others who run the company say that’s the last resort.
“The people we have are valuable to us. (You don’t want to let them go..) No I definitely don’t want to let them go.. no way,” says Deputy Chief, Scott Hershey.
Chief Keens says if the company has to pay for insurance he’ll consult the township to see if it can help in anyway.