NACo released word of a major victory on January 13, with word that the US Department of Treasury has ruled that volunteer fire companies are excluded from the employer mandate to provide health insurance under the federal Affordable Care Act.
NACo and the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) had jointly pursued clarification of this issue, as a potential insurance mandate could upend the financing and staffing practices of volunteer companies across the country. While federal legislation had been introduced to remedy the concern, the immediate solution came yesterday in the form of an administrative ruling. From the NACo website:
IAFC, NACo and other organizations raised the issue with Congress and urged them to support the Protecting Firefighters and Emergency Responders Act introduced December 10 last year in the Senate by Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and in the House by Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Penn.). The bills (S. 1798 and H.R. 3685) would have ensured that volunteer fire departments and other volunteer first responders would not be required to count as FTEs for purpose of calculating health insurance coverage. Assuming the forthcoming regulations comport with the announcement, legislative action should not be necessary.