Health Care Reform Threatens Volunteer Fire/EMS

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA, also known as "Obamacare") requires employers with 50 or more full-time employees to provide health insurance to full-time empoloyees or face a tax penalty. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has determined that for tax purposes, volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel are "employees" of the agencies that they serve. Previously, this determination was only significant with regard to how benefits that volunteers receive are reported to and taxed by the federal government. With passage of PPACA, however, volunteer fire and EMS departments could end up being required to provide health insurance to volunteer personnel who work for the agency they serve for 30 or more hours per week on a regular basis.
 
The IRS is in the process of developing final implementing regulations for the PPACA and Congress is holding hearings to identify potential issues of public concern associated with the law. Use the NVFC's Capwiz service to let the IRS, Congress and the President and Vice President know that fire and EMS agencies cannot afford to provide health insurance for volunteer personnel and that volunteers do not have an expectation of receiving such benefits from the agencies that they serve.

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