U.S. Treasury to exempt volunteer firefighters from ACA mandate

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The U.S. Treasury has decided to fully exempt volunteer firefighters and volunteer medical emergency personnel from being counted as full time equivalent full-time employees under the Affordable Care Act. Compliance to the law threatened the ability of volunteer fire companies and medical emergency responders to serve their communities.

Last month Rep. Lou Barletta and a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced the “Protect Volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Responders Act” bill to resolve the problem. In response to the out cry, the Treasury Department undertook a review of the employer mandate as it relates to volunteer fire companies and emergency medical personnel.  The agency’s Assistant Secretary of Legislative Affairs, Alastair Fitzpayne, sent Barletta and other lawmakers a letter announcing its decision.

An excerpt of from that letter reads: “As a result of of that review and further analysis concerning the appropriate treatment of volunteer firefighters and volunteer emergency personnel under section 4980H, the forthcoming final regulations generally will not require volunteer hours of bona fide volunteer firefighters and volunteer emergency medical personnel at governmental entities or tax-exempt organizations to be counted when determining an employer’s full time employees or full time equivalent employees.”

Approximately 750,000 volunteer firefighters serve in 20,000 all-volunteer and 5,000 combination career-volunteer fire departments throughout the United States.

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