Fire companies will not be required to provide health insurance to volunteers under the Affordable Care Act, according to Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware.
In a letter sent Friday to Coons, the U.S. Treasury Department relayed it would issue new guidance to reconcile a conflict in the tax code that would require fire companies to count their volunteer members as "employees" and potentially trigger the Affordable Care Act's coverage mandate for businesses with more than 50 employees.
In a prepared statement, Coons said while the ACA is already doing a lot of good for a lot of people, it isn't perfect.
"The issue facing our volunteer fire companies needed to be fixed, and since Republicans' commitment to repealing the law is making it impossible for us to repair the law, it was important for the president to step in," Coons said. "The action taken by the Treasury Department will spare Delaware's 60 volunteer fire companies from a significant unintended financial burden."
Coons and Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, co-sponsored the Protect Volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Responders Act, introduced in mid-December to clarify the employer requirements for volunteer fire departments and emergency responders in the ACA.
"These volunteer departments operate on very limited budgets and traditionally don't offer benefits to volunteers," Carper said earlier this week. "This measure makes it clear that volunteer firefighters and emergency responders should not be counted toward the employer mandate in the health care law, ensuring that these volunteer departments aren't on the hook for additional costs and can use their limited financial resources on the tools and equipment they need to help keep our communities safe."
The legislation was assigned to a committee but is now moot and no longer needs to be considered, according to Coons' office.