The Obama Administration today informed U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) that volunteer firefighters and emergency medical personnel will not be counted as full-time employees to determine if the fire department is subject to onerous requirements in the President's health care law.
Sen. Toomey spearheaded a bipartisan effort to ensure volunteer firefighters and first responders can continue protecting communities that rely on them. He introduced the Protect Volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Responders Act, which would have amended the President's health care law to make it clear that volunteers should not be required to be counted as full-time equivalent employees thus triggering the employer mandate.
In most cases, volunteer first responders maintain other full-time employment and choose to volunteer. Not surprisingly, emergency response agencies which rely almost entirely on volunteer assistance do not have the resources to provide benefits. Additionally, volunteer first responders do not expect to receive compensation or health coverage as a result of their volunteer public service.
“This is great news for first responders in Pennsylvania,” said Sen. Toomey. “Our commonwealth has the largest number of volunteer fire departments in the country. They play a crucial role in protecting Pennsylvanians each and every day. I am pleased that the Administration heard the bipartisan call to protect these fire departments from one of the devastating consequences of Obamacare. Pennsylvania is fortunate to have so many dedicated volunteers willing to risk their lives for their fellow citizens and the least we can do is help them keep their doors open.”
Sen. Toomey's legislation was supported by the International Association of Fire Chiefs.