Sen. Joe Manchin is introducing legislation, along with five other senators, that would exempt volunteer first responders from a mandate in the new health care law.
The bill is titled “The Protect Volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Responders Act.” According to a news release, this legislation would amend the Affordable Care Act so that volunteer emergency service workers are not required to be counted as full-time equivalent employees under the healthcare coverage law.
While some volunteer firefighters are paid, many emergency response agencies don’t have the resources to provide pay or benefits to volunteers, Manchin says, and fire departments shouldn’t be penalized for not being able to provide those benefits.
Manchin says the health care law, without this change, jeopardizes funding for training and emergency response hours.
The legislation’s been endorsed by the International Association of Fire Chiefs, National Volunteer Fire Council, and Congressional Fire Services Institute.
Congressman David McKinley is co-sponsoring the house version of the act.