Protecting Volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Responders Actby Representative Charles W. Dent
Posted on 2014-01-08
DENT. Thank you. I would like to also join my colleagues tonight
in support of Representative Barletta's very important legislation to
help clarify the fact that the volunteer firefighters should not be
counted as full-time equivalents under the employer mandate under the
health care law, more commonly known as ObamaCare.
It has been very clear to me, after having meetings with many of my friends in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, where a number of firefighters from different fire companies came to speak to me on this issue, that the potential impact of this idea of counting volunteer firefighters as full-time equivalents will really have a very negative impact on public safety in that particular community, where volunteer firefighters really do provide the bulk of the fire service, as is the case in much of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and throughout the country.
It is clear to me that the health care law is riddled with so many problems. We always knew that this employer mandate was going to be a problem where it says that if you have more than 50 employees you are going to have to provide health care benefits after the first 30 for those working more than 30 hours a week.
I don't think anybody in their wildest imagination would have ever thought that a volunteer fire company would have been impacted by this. It raises a whole host of questions too: Well, are those volunteer firefighters part of the municipal workforce? There are all sorts of questions that we simply don't know the answers to.
It is my hope that we never have to address the Barletta legislation, as important as it is. I am hopeful that the IRS will come to a ruling at some point to clarify the fact that these volunteers are not full- time equivalents for the purpose of the health care law in the employee mandate. That would be the easiest way out. Absent an IRS ruling, well then let's pass this bill. I am proud to be a cosponsor. I am delighted that my good friend and colleague Lou Barletta, we share a county, Dauphin County, in the Harrisburg area. We share that county. This is also a very big issue in that part of the State.
It is important that we move forward with this legislation in the event that the IRS fails to do its job and provide the clarity and the guidance that so many of our volunteers depend on. More important than the volunteers is the people they serve. These volunteer firefighters are protecting us and this employer mandate will only make that task that much more difficult and deny fire service, unfortunately, to too many people across the country in the Commonwealth.
With that, I commend my friend, Mr. Barletta, for his very important legislation.